ADHP providers strongly support increasing access to preventative dental care. In Washington, our members, public health professionals, the Washington Dental Hygiene Association (WDHA), and the Legislature have worked together to provide the public with new ways to access preventative dental care. Over a period of three decades, this collaborative group of advocates has addressed the gap in access to care by expanding the role of independent dental hygiene providers.
The Legislature passed a bill allowing dental hygienists to provide specific preventative dental services in hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, group homes serving the elderly, handicapped and juveniles, state institutions and federal, state and local public heath facilities.
WDHA successfully added “prophylaxis” (dental cleaning) to the services a hygienist can provide in school sealant programs. The law was further expanded to include “senior centers” to RCW 18.29.056 whereby a hygienist can provide services in a senior center if he or she maintains a collaboration agreement with a dentist.
WDHA also successfully applied to the Washington Dental Service Foundation for six $10,000 grants to assist hygienists in setting up practices in senior centers throughout the state.
As part of a collaborative process, WDHA and Eastern Washington University (EWU) developed and proposed a new model for providing preventative care known as the Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner. Based partially upon the successful model in Minnesota, the proposed model would allow a hygienist who meets specific education requirements to complete additional training at EWU to become an Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner. Upon completion of the the training, graduates would be allowed to perform expanded functions in the dental field. WDHA is currently seeking support from lawmakers to make this approach part of the law.
WDHA successfully sponsored legislation that made it legal for dental hygienists to use “topical anesthetics” and to serve home bound patients of record in their homes. WDHA also continued its work with the Children’s Alliance and the Washington Dental Access Coalition to pursue legislation on the mid-level Dental Hygiene Practitioner model.