Embracing the Past, Building Our Future

Adams, Andrea, Amber French, Lina Jajjoka, Jamie Kay, Kathryn Rup, and Judy Jaeger

The purpose of this study was to assess the perceptions of dental hygienists in the state of Michigan on their willingness to perform limited restorative procedures and if the current scope of dental hygiene practice is expanded, whether or not this will improve access to care.

 

Numerous studies have reported lack of access to oral health care in the United States. Scientific literature reports limited data on perceptions of registered dental hygienists to these challenges. A seventeen question survey was distributed to registered dental hygienists (n=261) attending the annual meeting of the Michigan Dental Hygienists Association in April 2013 and the Detroit District Dental Society Fall Review in November 2013. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (Protocol #1213-35).Data indicated 67% of registered dental hygienists believe that increasing the scope of practice of dental hygienists will have a positive impact on access to care.  52% believe if the scope of practice was changed to include these procedures they felt that additional continuing education either during or after completing the dental hygiene curriculum should be the minimal educational requirement. Results from the survey data suggested that regardless of age or dental assisting experience, the majority of the participants surveyed were interested in performing additional duties and were willing to take further education to allow them to do so. Most importantly, they felt that this would increase access to care. The information collected may lead toward a progression in the field of dental hygiene to allow for an expanded scope of practice. Future areas of research may include the opinions and attitudes of practicing dentists in the state of Michigan.