The Most Innovative and Impactful
Developments in Access to Oral Health
Copyright 2000 Alliance of Dental Hygiene Practitioners. All rights reserved.
“In some states, including
Oregon and California, elderly
patients who can’t drive or are
too ill to visit a dentist can get
care from a dental hygienist at
home.” pg 28
Scientific America Custom Media Group, in collaboration with Colgate
takes a closer look at the future of oral health, global challenges,
advances, and new technology.
Review by Robin Roderick, RDH, BSDH, MSDH
This special issue takes a look at the future of oral health globally,
providing a 200-year global review of dentistry, its historical divide with
evidence-based medicine, and the growing awareness of oral health and
total health. This issue conveys insight to how oral medicine is now
infused with technology such as smart toothbrushes, smart phone
scanning, nanobots, teladentistry, and even fairytale children’s phone
apps to promote brushing.
Furthermore, it supplies a global snapshot of the tooth decay, missing and
filled teeth among 12-year-olds between 1994 through 2014, in addition to
facts and statistics regarding oral health around the world, stating the cost
of dental disease in 2010 worldwide was a staggering $298 billion.
Likewise, author Heger, reviews how empowered consumers/patients
have affected dentistry. She examines the diverse set of differing needs
such as older patients living longer with natural teeth, people living in rural
areas without access, growing underserved populations, and the
“uberization of dental care” (page 21) by Millennials who demand more
convenience with less loyalty.
However, even with all this technology, dental disease remains a global
crisis affecting 60 to 90 percent of schoolchildren and nearly all adults
(World Health Organization, Morad, page 25). Morad addresses the aging
baby boomer population, stating “one-fifth of people over 75 haven’t seen
a dentist in five years, and globally, almost a third of people aged 65 to 74
have none of their original teeth” (page 28). Concluding that a team
approach is needed with further attention on prevention by urging
policymakers to re-evaluate the oral systemic connection.
Although innovations continue to improve dentistry and oral care has
been at the forefront, this issue demonstrates the challenges ahead to
improve the state of oral health around the world and the important role
dental hygienists have as an established workforce. Thankfully,
Washington State is one of the 39 states that allow dental hygienists to
initiate care in alternative settings without the presence of a dentist
(ADHA, 2016) and the ADHP demonstrates this successful model (1).
Oral health and the connection with prevention has evolved, a new and
irreversible development has come. The magic moment is now; a tipping
point and through collaboration with an already skilled and ready
workforce, Washington State can be the leaders in making a difference in
oral health and prevention by supporting a ready and available workforce
of over 4,000 licensed dental hygienists who have graduated from dental
hygiene programs with Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Expanding the scope of practice for this skilled workforce is one solution
that could be implemented swiftly and would demonstrate action by
legislatures to their constituents of Washington State.
Read more and download your copy here.