By now you may have seen one of our ketchup packets or logos. This little attention getter answer the simple question of what the Georgia Dental Hygienists’ Association hope to achieve this legislative session. “Time to Catch Up” is a campaign to raise awareness of the value of dental hygiene services and the oral health needs of Georgia. Our state is lagging behind in utilizing this skilled group of professionals. This campaign is focused on making change that would align our laws and rules with the normal supervision guidelines and scope of practice observed in a majority of states.
Administration of local anesthesia is one way dental hygienists can help a patient have a more comfortable dental experience. Dental hygienist have safely administered local anesthesia since 1971 in most states in the United States. The delivery of local anesthesia by properly trained hygienists would under the direct supervision and delegation of the dentist. Currently, 44 states and the District of Columbia allow registered dental hygienists to administer local anesthesia.
For over 20 years hygienists working for the Georgia Department of Health and Department of Corrections have performed dental hygiene duties under general supervision. 45 of 50 states allow this level of supervision. Our association supports expanding this level of supervision to other populations in need. Charity clinics in Georgia have written letters to the Board of Dentistry explaining how this change would allow them to serve more of Georgia’s at risk population. According to a 2012 dental workforce study, GA has 16 counties without a dentist and the state ranks 49th in the nation for its low dentist to population ratio. Of the 18 mobile dental vans in GA only 2 provide services to nursing homes. Hygienists are an important part of our dental safety-net system.