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J Dent Hyg. 2013 Oct;87(5):299-308.

Public health dental hygiene: an option for improved quality of care and quality of life.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this research was to document quality of life (QoL) and quality of care (QoC) measures for families receiving care from dental hygienists within public health departments, and to consider if oral health for families with economic disparities and cultural differences was improved.

METHODS:

A descriptive research study using a retrospective record review was conducted considering QoC. A review of state epid "Do preventive oral health programs based in local health departments provide quality care services, thus impacting QoL for underserved populations?"

RESULTS:

A dental hygienist working in public health made significant contributions to improving access to care and QoL in a rural, socioeconomically disadvantaged community. A total of 2,364 children received education, 1,745 received oral screenings and 1,511 received dental sealants. Of these, 804 children with caries were referred, with 463 receiving restorations and follow-up care. QoL metrics basis assessed Health Outcomes & Health Determinants. Initial QoL data was ranked in the bottom half of the state, while 70% of original determinant data was also ranked in the bottom half of reported metrics.

CONCLUSION:

Dental hygienists in public health settings can positively affect patients offering preventive care outreach services. Education and sealant placement were considered effective as measured by access, delivery and, when required, referral for restorative care. Improvement in QoL for individuals was noted through improved health outcomes and determinant metrics.

KEYWORDS:

access to care; allied health; dental hygiene; education; health disparities; outcomes; prevention; quality of care; quality of life; workforce development

PMID:
24158663
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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