- 1. What was different about dental hygiene (techniques, practice etc.) during the decade in which you were Board President?
I have been a dental hygiene educator for almost 20 years so I am considering this question from both an educator’s point of view and that of a board director at BCDHA. During the decade from 2004-present the practice of dental hygiene has pretty much stayed the same with the use of ADPIE (Assessment, Diagnosis, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) as the foundation of our process of care. One notable difference in dental hygiene curriculum however is the implementation of CAMBRA (caries management by risk assessment). This is a shift in thinking from the traditional philosophy of waiting until a cavity is formed then providing treatment to the use of aggressive preventive measures to reduce the risk of future cavities. Another relatively new technique is non-injectable local anesthetic called Oraqix. This has allowed dental hygienists to provide limited pain control to patients without having the dentist present. The dental profession never stays static. There are always new products, instruments and equipment being developed to make things faster and easier.
As a board director at BCDHA the most notable changes in the profession of dental hygiene in the last decade include:
- BCDHA’s involvement in the expansion of residential care to include assisted living so that more individuals, specifically those who were homebound could access dental hygiene services.
- Negotiating direct billing for independent practitioners allowed dental hygienists the freedom to directly bill for their services to third party insurers without having to use a dentist’s billing number.
- The most notable accomplishment however is the change in legislation to the “365 day rule” that lead to the creation of the 365 exemption category. Although we were unable to get the complete removal of 365, it does open up options for dental hygiene practice outside the 365 and allows individuals who may not otherwise have to ability to access dental care to get that care they so badly need. The announcement of this change was made by the Minister of Health, the honorable Mike DeJong at the 2012 BCDHA AGM.
The accomplishments during this decade were not numerous but I have discovered it takes a long time to affect change. BCDHA has spent an enormous amount of time over the past decade advocating for changes to our legislation in order to move our profession forward.
2. What do you wish had changed between then and now that has not?
I wish we had been successful in getting the government to completely remove the 365 day rule as well as the supervision of local anesthetic. Additionally, my vision would extend to the dental hygiene profession in British Columbia having legislation similar to that of Alberta. Dental hygienists in Alberta have no 365 day rule, no supervision with local anesthetic; they have limited prescriptive rights and the ability to prescribe radiographs. These changes would allow us to practice in a variety of difference settings as well as open up more access to dental hygiene services for those individuals who currently have limited or no access.