Clients now have a choice in deciding where they receive dental hygiene care. Dental hygiene services no longer have to be offered only through a Dental office. In Sept. 2007, legislation changed to allow the registered dental hygienist to self-initiate treatment. This means that the dentist and the dental hygienist work from separate clinics.
Independent Dental Hygiene clinics are cropping up everywhere. At Independent dental hygiene clinics, a registered dental hygienist provides the care and refers clients to a Dentist when a dentist is needed. This is the typical model of oral care delivered in this new system. It’s a whole paradigm shift in the way that Dentistry is provided. The dental hygienist and Dentist still work together without being directly attached to one another. It’s not an “either or” equation it’s an “in conjunction with” process.
The Dentists area of expertise comes into play when an area of concern is identified. The hygienist’s area of expertise is in treating the gums and preventing gum disease. This is the basis of the preventive recall visit or “check-up” that people are experiencing in the traditional dental office. The dental hygienist executes the treatment and identifies potential areas of concern. The dentist diagnosis future restorative work that needs to be done. In the Independent dental hygiene clinic, areas of concern are still identified in the same way, they are just communicated by way of referral to our off-site supporting Dentist’. We also coach our clients to open the lines of communication and we fuel them with questions to ask so they have a clear understanding of treatment options, consequences and protocols.
The benefits are substantial for clients. People that haven’t been able to access care in remote areas or from being homebound can now receive treatment in their own environments. A lot of Independent dental hygienists offer portable care and this includes in Nursing homes. This type of treatment is greatly needed as these populations are usually not dentally serviced.
Christopher Clarke said in the Dec. 2009 London Free Press article,” With over 300 clinics in Ontario the Independent Dental hygienists’ exposure is growing. Sensational Smiles Inc. is London’s first dental hygiene clinic established in November of 2009. We’re on the leading edge of what could be a revolution in dental care, a change that has the potential to rewrite the relationship between dentists, dental hygienists and patients. The change is a decoupling of dentists and hygienists, each of whom typically is responsible for something different in our mouths. Most people don’t realize this. The dental hygienist is now providing services distinct to their training.”
Ontario residents now have the option of receiving professional treatment by a registered dental hygienist without having to see a dentist at every visit. Dental Hygiene is a governed profession regulated by the College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Ontario and for decade’s dental hygienist have been the primary providers of preventive oral health care.
For more information regarding the regulated dental hygiene profession and your oral health please visit the ONTARIO DENTAL HYGIENISTS ASSOCIATION www.odha.on.ca