Surdu S, Dall T, Langelier M, Forte G, Chakrabarti R, Reynolds R. The pediatric dental workforce in 2016 and beyond. JADA. July 2019; 150(7):609-617.
Trends in the prevalence of early childhood caries among young children in the United States support recommendations for early and regular use of oral health care services. Caries remains the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting nearly one-fifth of children aged 5 years or younger and one-half of children aged 6 through 10 years. Untreated dental disease can cause pain, functional impairments, and poor school performance, and it can lead to loss of teeth or expensive restorative interventions. Caries also makes a child more vulnerable to various systemic infections, which threaten not only oral health but also overall health and quality of life.
Moore J, Goodwin N. Expanding Access to Care with Scope of Practice. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. 2019; 17(3):12-14.
There has been longstanding concern about uneven access to oral health services, particularly for some groups, including children, the elderly, racial/ethnic minorities, and the economically disadvantaged. Stakeholders with an interest in expanding access to care and improving the oral health status of the underserved are driving efforts to identify and adopt innovative strategies to improve population oral health. Dental hygienists (DHs), who are considered experts in prevention education and services, often play important roles in programs that improve access to needed oral health services
State-based laws and regulations define legal scopes of practice (SOP) for health professionals within a state. This contributes to variation in what DHs in different states are legally allowed to do. It is challenging to systematically describe these SOP differences, assess their impacts on population oral health and translate this into policy-relevant information. With support from HRSA’s National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, researchers at the Oral Health Workforce Research Center (OHWRC), Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS), developed a professional practice index to describe DH SOP across states and studied impacts of this variation on state oral health outcomes. Subsequently, researchers developed an infographic based on this work to depict state-level variation in DH SOP to help oral health advocacy groups, policy makers and other stakeholders better understand these issues.
Moore J. Health Professions Regulation in the United States. J Health Law (Revista de Direito Sanitario). October 2018;19(2):131-155.
In the US, states are primarily responsible for the regulation of health professions. The structure and content of state-specific health professions regulation has significant impacts on the delivery of health care services. This is particularly important given that health reform initiatives are designed to improve population health through the provision of accessible, high quality, and affordable basic health services. There is concern that existing state-based, profession-specific regulatory structures cannot easily support the workforce innovations necessary for health reform. Aspects of the current system that constrain the effective and efficient use of the health workforce include mismatches between professional competence and legal scopes of practice, lack of consistency in legal scopes of practice across states, limited flexibility to support overlap in scopes of practice across professions, and the slow and adversarial process for changing scope of practice rules.