Scientific America Custom Media Group, in collaboration with
Colgate takes a closer look at the future of oral health, global
challenges, advances, and new technology.
Review by Robin Roderick, RDH, BSDH, MSDH
This special issue takes a look at the future of oral health globally,
providing a 200-year global review of dentistry, its historical divide
with evidence-based medicine, and the growing awareness of oral
health and total health. This issue conveys insight to how oral
medicine is now infused with technology such as smart
toothbrushes, smart phone scanning, nanobots, teladentistry, and
even fairytale children’s phone apps to promote brushing.
Furthermore, it supplies a global snapshot of the tooth decay,
missing and filled teeth among 12-year-olds between 1994 through
2014, in addition to facts and statistics regarding oral health
around the world, stating the cost of dental disease in 2010
worldwide was a staggering $298 billion.
Likewise, author Heger, reviews how empowered
consumers/patients have affected dentistry. She examines the
diverse set of differing needs such as older patients living longer
with natural teeth, people living in rural areas without access,
growing underserved populations, and the “uberization of dental
care” (page 21) by Millennials who demand more convenience with
However, even with all this technology, dental disease remains a
global crisis affecting 60 to 90 percent of schoolchildren and nearly
all adults (World Health Organization, Morad, page 25). Morad
addresses the aging baby boomer population, stating “one-fifth of
people over 75 haven’t seen a dentist in five years, and globally,
almost a third of people aged 65 to 74 have none of their original
teeth” (page 28). Concluding that a team approach is needed with
further attention on prevention by urging policymakers to re-
evaluate the oral systemic connection.
Although innovations continue to improve dentistry and oral care
has been at the forefront, this issue demonstrates the challenges
ahead to improve the state of oral health around the world and the
important role dental hygienists have as an established workforce.
Thankfully, Washington State is one of the 39 states that allow
dental hygienists to initiate care in alternative settings without the
presence of a dentist (ADHA, 2016) and the ADHP demonstrates
this successful model (1).
Oral health and the connection with prevention has evolved, a new
and irreversible development has come. The magic moment is
now; a tipping point and through collaboration with an already
skilled and ready workforce, Washington State can be the leaders
in making a difference in oral health and prevention by supporting
a ready and available workforce of over 4,000 licensed dental
hygienists who have graduated from dental hygiene programs with
Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Expanding the
scope of practice for this skilled workforce is one solution that
could be implemented swiftly and would demonstrate action by
legislatures to their constituents of Washington State.
Read more and download your copy here.
Additional Information Regarding Dental
Hygiene in Washington State
1. Dental Hygienists Practice in Senior Centers and School-
Based Programs Summary - July 2013
2. ADHA 2016: Direct Access States
3. History of Dental Hygiene in Washington State
4. RCW 18.29.056 Senior Centers
5. RCW 18.29.056 School Sealant Programs
6. Levels of Supervision
Copyright 2000 Alliance of Dental Hygiene Practitioners. All rights reserved.