Hygienists want more training on oral-systemic link

Dental hygienists could improve their knowledge of certain aspects of the oral-systemic link, according to a study in the Journal of Dental Education (June 2012, Vol. 76:6, pp. 682-694).

Although associations between periodontal and systemic health have been well-established, there is little evidence regarding dental hygienists' knowledge of the oral-systemic connection, noted the study authors, from the Pacific University School of Dental Health Science.

So they developed a survey that was mailed to 1,665 licensed dental hygienists in North Carolina. Of these, 859 returned surveys were included in the study.

While more than 80% of the respondents correctly identified risk factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD), they were less knowledgeable about risk factors for osteoporosis and adverse pregnancy outcomes, the researchers found. In addition, 77% knew that there is strong evidence linking periodontal disease with CVD, and 70% were aware of the link between periodontal disease and diabetes.

Here are some additional findings:

  • 94% of respondents felt that hygienists should be trained to identify risk factors for oral-systemic disease.
  • 78% felt that hygienists should be trained to actively manage patients with systemic disease.
  • 88% felt that dental and medical professionals should be taught to practice collaboratively.

"These dental hygienists had a high level of knowledge in some areas of oral-systemic disease but could improve their confidence levels and knowledge through expanded content in their educational programs and continuing education," the study authors concluded.

Page 1 of 146
Next Page