Are Registered Dental Hygienists screening children and adolescents for hypertension?

Szmiett, Jeanette

Objective: Dental hygienists are part of the health care team. They not only need to focus on the oral health of their patient, they need to contribute to the patient’s overall health and well-being. The aim of this study was to better gain understanding of whether dental hygienists are conducting routine screenings on children and adolescents for hypertension and their level of awareness of the rising issue of hypertension in this population. Methods: This descriptive study   consisted of a convenience sample of 36 registered dental hygienists in the state of Michigan. The instrument utilized was a questionnaire-based electronic survey consisting of ten questions. Results: 192 surveys were sent electronically with a response rate of 18.8%. The respondents were registered dental hygienists licensed in the state of Michigan. 19.4% of the hygienists surveyed are not conducting screenings on their patients and only two are conducting routine screening at age five. This could be a result of the lack in education, as 83.3% of the hygienists have not participated in any educational activities regarding child and adolescent hypertension in the past five years. Conclusion: Based of the findings in this study only 5.6% of the dental hygienists surveyed are conducting routine screenings on children and adolescents for hypertension. Raising the awareness for the need in implementing screenings and the interest in this issue (83.3%) is evident. Creating guidelines and standard protocols needs to be implemented for dental hygienists to aid in instilling routine screenings into current practice and education.