Oral health is essential to our quality of life and well-being, and also an integral part of general health. In Europe, it can be summarized as follows (“Better Oral Health in Europe Position”, April 2013):
- No apparent improvement in periodontal health and increasing numbers of elderly and diabetics who are at risk of periodontal problems;
- Low level of oral health literacy in countries without dental hygienist education;
- Low Vocational and Education Training (VET) level for dental hygienist and no European coordination on the matter; inefficient professional development of dental hygienists;
- Unmet medical needs within socio-economically deprived groups.
University dental medical staff, dental hygienists, population in group of age and community organizations are the main target groups placed at the center of any strategy aiming to increase access to oral healthcare and improve the public health education. It has been shown that dental hygienists are able to provide preventive services outside offices as well as creating advanced provider models that involve training hygienists with an expanded scope of practice and less supervision. Innovative programs display that increased use of dental hygienists can promote access to oral healthcare, particularly for underserved populations, including children.