Dental hygiene celebrates independence



    Government improves public access to oral hygiene care

    BURLINGTON, ON, Sept. 1 /CNW/ - Dental hygienists have achieved
independence after a 14-year campaign to remove the restrictions that tie
dental hygiene to dentistry. Amendments to the Dental Hygiene Act, which the
government put into force today, improve public access to preventive oral care
services by allowing dental hygienists the freedom to clean teeth outside the
traditional dental office without a procedural "order" from a dentist.
    "This is a major breakthrough for the public and for the profession of
dental hygiene," said Melanie Doyle, President of the Ontario Dental
Hygienists' Association (ODHA). There are approximately 9000 practising dental
hygienists in the province.
    "The new legislation has the potential to change the way preventive care
is offered in Ontario," she said. "Dental hygiene is a mobile profession. With
restrictions removed, dental hygienists can take their services where they are
needed, subject to regulatory college standards and procedures."
    Amendments to the Act are contained in Bill 171, which was initiated by
George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. He said, "The
McGuinty government recognizes the important role that dental hygienists play
in oral care and the benefits for the public. The ability to work
independently is a significant step forward for the profession and one that
will increase access to dental hygiene care for many Ontarians."
    The public will be able to choose their healthcare provider and obtain
affordable, professional oral care treatment when and where they need it.
Those who will benefit most are low-income families, the uninsured, and those
who are physically unable to get to a dental office such as the sick or the
homebound, residents in long-term care homes and those living in remote areas.
    "This is a very exciting time for dental hygiene," said Ms. Doyle. "For
several years we have been actively pushing for independence and our efforts
have paid off. This is truly a momentous achievement for all those who
supported ODHA and worked so hard on this issue."
    ODHA Executive Director Margaret Carter calls the new legislative
amendments a turning point in the profession's history and in the delivery of
healthcare in Ontario. "By making accessible oral care a reality, the
government has recognized dental hygiene as a major contributor and partner in
Ontario's healthcare system," she said.
    Throughout the legislative process, ODHA worked closely with the
provincial government and helped shape the amendments to the Dental Hygiene
Act. "We are proud of this very important piece of legislation," said Minister
Smitherman. "The ODHA is to be applauded for keeping the lines of
communication open and for working together with the dental profession to
bring this issue forward."

    Established in 1963, the ODHA advocates for the profession. Dental
hygiene is one of the largest of the regulated health professions in the
province. In Ontario, all dental hygienists are registered with the College of
Dental Hygienists of Ontario, which regulates the profession to ensure the
public receives safe and effective oral healthcare.

    
    PHOTO AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST featuring Minister Smitherman and ODHA
    representatives
    





For further information:

For further information: The Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association,
Weekdays: 1-800-315-6342, or e-mail info@odha.on.ca; Weekends and after
business hours: (905) 466-2746

Organization Profile

Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association

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