Dental hygienists as providers in long-term care facilities

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Pickard, Ruth B.
Ablah, Carol R.

Special care in dentistry : official publication of the American Association of Hospital Dentists, the Academy of Dentistry for the Handicapped, and the American Society for Geriatric Dentistry. 2005 Jan-Feb; 25(1): 19-28.


The authors surveyed all practicing dental hygienists (n = 870, response rate = 69%) in Kansas about providing preventive dental care to elderly residents of long-term care (LTC) facilities. Maximum likelihood estimates stepwise logistic regressions were used to predict the likelihood of dental hygienists filling the need for a specialty workforce. Few respondents wanted to work exclusively with elderly patients. Lack of interest in LTC practice was related to the number of children living at home or discomfort with patients who had limited abilities to communicate. Interest in part-time geriatric practice was related to motivation to help older patients and unhappiness with current role limitations. Implications for reimbursement and educational offerings are discussed. While dental hygienists could fill a need in preventive oral health for elderly patients, it remains to be seen if subsequent policy changes result in that outcome.

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