Superhygienist turf wars; overcoming patient guilt

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November 5, 2008
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Editor's Note

Dear DrBicuspid Member,

One of the biggest issues in dentistry today is improving access to oral healthcare in underserved communities. Some believe the solution lies in the creation of a new type of oral healthcare provider who can perform many of the duties of dentists but without the same training or licensing requirements.

But this notion of the "superhygienist" has become a hot button as the ADA, Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) each develop their own concepts. Some might call it a turf war. The ADHA has proposed the advanced dental hygiene practitioner, the ADA is a proponent of the community dental health coordinator, and the AGD has concerns about both.

In an "Access to Care" white paper issued this summer, the AGD argues that "present efforts to institute independent midlevel providers -- lesser educated providers who are not dentists -- to provide unsupervised care to underserved patients are not only economically unfeasible but ... will provide lesser quality care to the poor."

Word of Mouth columnist Helaine Smith, D.D.S., agrees. In her latest posting, "Dentists must fight superhygienist law," she says "Yes, there are underserved people, but is providing care that could harm the individual solving the problem?" Read more.

Practice management tips

Richard Geller, another Word of Mouth contributor, says that guilt is the hidden reason many patients quit a dental practice. Could you unknowingly be making your patients feel so bad about their treatment decisions they never come back? Read more.

A growing number of dentists are joining practice-based research networks as a way to bring clinical research into the real world. They say it is a rewarding experience that has minimal impact on their time. Find out what's involved here.

And in part II of our series, "How to get a high-tech office without breaking the bank," Martin Jablow, D.M.D., offers more great tips for budget-friendly gadgets that can enhance your practice.

Important news for DrBicuspid members

This week, DrBicuspid.com is implementing a new policy that may affect the way you view content on the site. Starting Friday, November 7, we'll be requiring everyone to be registered as a member and logged in before you can read stories, work the Case of the Week, or use our other content and services.

The new policy brings DrBicuspid into line with standard membership practices on the Internet. Rest assured that your DrBicuspid membership will remain free of charge, and that we will continue to adhere to our strict privacy policy, which you can view here.

If you have any questions or need additional assistance, e-mail us at [email protected].


Kathy Kincade
Editor in Chief
[email protected]
Top Stories 
By failing to block the creation of a "midlevel practitioner" in Minnesota, organized dentistry has allowed the profession to become degraded, says Helaine Smith in her column, The Mouth Physician. The law will exploit, rather than help, the underserved, she argues.
Some dental dilemmas are best solved in everyday practices rather than academic settings. This is what makes practice-based research so invaluable, according to a panel of experts at the recent ADA meeting.
You can easily make patients feel so guilty they quit your practice, says marketing expert Richard Geller in his column, Marketing Madness. You may not even know you're doing it.
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