• Foundation for Airway Health

Dental Hygienists as Airway Advocates

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

Great news!!

Dental Hygienists have been reclassified as Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners by the US Office of Management and Budget.

Up until now, the profession was classified as Health Technologists or Technicians but in 2018, the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) was updated so that Dental Hygienists are now classified as Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners.

What does this mean? A Brave New World!

Dental hygienists, both female and male, are forging new pathways for the provision of oral care in nontraditional settings. Some dental hygienists are working independently, demonstrating that they can deliver safe and effective care to vulnerable populations. Dental hygienists are becoming key researchers in the oral health field contributing to an extensive knowledge base in oral health prevention.[1]

Collaboration is more important now than ever!

With current research demonstrating connection between oral health and general health, we have an opportunity to broaden our experiences and contributions to patient/client health by collaborating with other health care providers. Creating “teams” that are designed to provide positive, preventive and therapeutic care to communities with the goal of improving health outcomes is a strong argument for restructuring health care in general. Removing the line that seems to be drawn between the head and neck and the rest of the body will allow all health care providers to change their approach to health outcomes. We have to work toward removing the hierarchical system of health care providers and focus more on meeting the health needs of the public using our collective expertise.

Dental Hygiene - “the times, they are a changin”

Dental hygienists from around the globe share many of the same professional experiences and challenges that we do in the United States. Expanding education and scope of practice, being autonomous and meeting the health care needs of the public are universal issues that are being addressed in many countries.

Dental Hygienists as Airway Advocates

Changing the perceptions of the public and healthcare providers to dental hygiene science and practice requires advanced education to level the playing field among other health care providers. Further, it requires that dental hygienists receive additional experiences in professional socialization and identity, community action, health policy, leadership, administration/management and research and scholarship. Advanced education will help dental hygienists think beyond the traditional role of auxiliary and look beyond the borders of a traditional dental practice setting.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most commonly undiagnosed sleep disorder and is gaining more recognition in dentistry. Dental hygienists are at a pivotal position to discuss risks, characteristics, medical referrals and treatment options for OSA, as well as detect if an individual has OSA through questionnaires and other tools that can be done during an examination. Dental hygienists need to receive appropriate education about OSA and should be well versed in their knowledge to educate patients.[2]


Education designed exclusively for YOU. To educate, empower and enhance your current practice. Calibrate yourself to excellence and those around you will follow…

Workshops coming to a town near you!

[1] https://www.adea.org/iwlc/women-leaders-voices/gurenlian.aspx

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26519492

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