Changes in the dental hygiene profession and the dental hygienists perspectives of these changes
Eichhorst, Robin P.
University of Wisconsin--Stout
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Dental hygienists have traditionally worked under supervising dentists; however, that practice is changing. States have increased settings in which associate -level dental hygienists are permitted to work without direct supervision. Many states are using mid-level dental hygiene providers to expand oral health care to serve more patients populations. The mid-level provider has a restorative scope along with a preventive oral health care scope. Wisconsin's Governor has proposed using mid-level practitioners to reach underserved populations in Wisconsin. Dental hygienists in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin were surveyed to determine their level of awareness of changes in the profession. The study found that a low level of knowledge exists between their knowledge of their increased settings they are permitted to practice as well as a low level of understanding that dental hygienists in Wisconsin are allowed to practice in some settings without direct supervision from a dentist. The study also found a low level of knowledge about mid-level providers in dental hygiene. Finally, the study revealed that Fox Valley dental hygienists are interested in learning about resources for practicing in alternative settings. These findings are valuable because dental hygiene instructors and dental community leaders seek to improve education of dental hygiene graduates and dental hygienists in the community.