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Update on Dental Hygiene Liaisons


In 2011, the ADHA partnered with the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) to recruit and support the work of a dental hygienist liaison (DHL) for the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (NCECHW) in every state and the District of Columbia. NCECHW advances best practices for linking health and early childhood education systems (e.g., Head Start, child care, and home visiting programs), health care professionals, and families.
The primary functions of a DHL include:
serving a communication link between NCECHW and early childhood education systems on topics related to improving the oral health pregnant women and children;
collaborating with state organizations and ongoing networks, including the state oral health program, Head Start state collaboration office, and child care agencies; and
promoting evidence-informed oral health information, materials, and resources.
With recognition of the efforts of DHLs across the country, the model recently expanded to include the addition of 5 regional DHL coordinators that serve as the DHLs in their state, as well as support DHLs within their region. Regional DHL coordinators and state DHLs are recognized as early childhood oral health leaders and advocates in their state. If you’d like to contact the DHL in your state, please inquire at gov.affairs@adha.net.

Congratulations to WVDHA Immediate Past-President, Gina Sharps, RDH, MPH, on her appointment as one of five of the ADHA DHL Regional Liaisons. Gina will proudly serve in representation of the ADHA District III as an integral part of her regional liaison services.

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Governor Appoints Mary Beth Shea to West Virginia Board of Dentistry                     10-16-13

Mary-BethMary Beth Shea, RDH, BA, Oral Health Coordinator at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department has been appointed to the West Virginia Board of Dentistry by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Ms. Shea will be representing the profession of Dental Hygiene along with Public Health Dentistry with this appointment. The West Virginia Dental Board regulates the profession of dentistry and dental hygiene, issues licenses to practice along with receiving and acting on complaints from the public or within the profession. The WV Dental Board is comprised of six dentists, one dental hygienist, one licensed dental assistant and one citizen member.

Currently, Mary Beth is the Oral Health Coordinator for the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department (MOVHD). The position initially funded by the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund is in its sixth year of existence. The MOVHD is one of three health departments in WV that has a dental program and employs a dental hygienist; it is the only regional health department in WV serving six counties. The MOVHD Oral Health Program provides outreach and education and screening, referral and portable preventive treatment clinics in the Wood County Schools. Mary Beth has been coordinating efforts to aid clinic participants in finding a dental home. Another MOVHD project for adult dental treatment was the Mission of Mercy (MOM) free dental clinic held at WVU-Parkersburg in the summer of 2009. The Smiles for Life adult screening and referral program with the Blennerhassett Dental Society opened in September 2011. Mary Beth has also been the Oral Health Educator for Wood County with the WVDHHR Children’s Oral Health Program (2004-2013). Ms. Shea has been active with many projects on the state level to influence legislative changes along with oral health surveillance. Before entering the field of public health full-time, Mary Beth acquired thirty years of clinical experience in general dentistry and periodontics.

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COMMISSION ON DENTAL ACCREDITATION (CODA) - comments on draft testimony are due by Dec. 1, 2013

Written comments can be directed to tookss@ada.org or mailed to Dr. Sherin Tooks, Director, CODA, 211 East Chicago Avenue, 19th floor, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Comments are due by December 1, 2013. Members who desire assistance with writing comments are encouraged to contact Ann Lynch at AnnL@adha.net.

An Open Hearing was held at the 2013 ADHA Annual Session : 41 people, including three dentists, provided oral comments at the CODA Hearing on June 22. Individuals from 18 states and Canada spoke.CODA Commissioners Dr. Michael Biermann and Dr. Kathi Shepard, along with CODA Director Dr. Sherin Tooks, were there to accept the comments only. The representatives did not speak.

The CODA Task Force on Development of Accreditation Standards for Dental Therapy Education Programs believed that the commission’s communities of interest should be requested to comment on the appropriateness of the proposed track or whether the commission should develop dental therapy standards for individuals with a dental hygiene degree.

The ADHA provided testimony that dental therapy draft standards should also include a dental hygiene based track as well as the non dental hygiene based track to accurately reflect existing dental therapy programs currently in place that already have a graduated, licensed and practicing workforce. Currently, CODA has only considered standards for a non-dental hygiene based track.

Some spoke asking for a Master's level requirement. Others spoke asking for a Bachelor's level requirement. But, all spoke asking that it be dental hygiene based model.

ADHA has talking points resources available. Registered dental hygienists are formally educated and licensed by each state and are available to help prevent oral health disease in a variety of settings and populations. "In 2004, ADHA became the first national oral health organization to develop and promote a new oral health workforce model with the establishment of the Advance Dental Hygiene Practitioner (ADHP) concept. The ADHP envisioned providing diagnostic, preventative, restorative, and therapeutic services directly to the public."

Hygiene based tracks are proposed in CT, KS, VT, MA, ME, NM. Dual track, hygiene based and non-hygiene based are proposed in WA, NH. Alaska began the first "dental therapists" in 2003 only in Native American health facilities under the Indian Health Service. Minnesota in 2009 gave state licensure for a BS degree dental therapist and a Master's degree plus RDH advanced dental therapist.

Some people suggest modeling after a nurse practitioner model which is a BSN plus a Master's degree in Nurse Practitioner, FNP. West Virginia University lists 44 credit hours with a BSN prerequisite.

Others suggest a PA, physician assistant model which is any undergraduate degree plus a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies. To see the requirements for a PA go to the Alderson Broaddaus University, Phillipi, WV website. It is 4 semesters plus one semester of rotations. Prerequisites include 32 hours of specific science courses and 40 of shadowing. A PA has more restrictions that a FNP once in practice.

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