Public Health Dental Hygienists

Information and resources for dental hygienists interested in working in a public health setting

On January 15, 2009, Chapter 530 of the Acts of 2008  was signed into law which, among other things, created a public health dental hygienist (PHDH) category of dental professional. According to Chapter 530, a public health dental hygienist is a practicing "registered dental hygienist who may perform in a public health setting, without the supervision or direction of a dentist, any procedure or provide any service that is within the scope of his practice and that has been authorized and adopted by the board as a delegable procedure for dental hygienists in private practice under general supervision." A public health dental hygienist must have "at least 3 years of full-time clinical experience who is practicing full or part time in a public health setting pursuant to section 51 and who has received appropriate training as determined by the department of public health."

According to Chapter 530, "a qualified registered dental hygienist who has a written collaborative agreement w/a licensed dentist or local or state agency or other institution where a dentist is available to provide the appropriate level of communication and consultation with the hygienist may practice in a public health setting including, but not be limited to, the following: residences of the homebound; schools; nursing homes and long-term care facilities; clinics, hospitals, medical facilities, community health centers and mobile and portable dental health programs licensed or certified by the department of public health; Head Start programs; and other facilities or programs deemed appropriate by the department of public health."

Chapter 530 also authorized public health dental hygienists to be "directly reimbursed for services administered in a public health setting by MassHealth or the commonwealth care health insurance program…"

Public Health Dental Hygienist Toolkit

The information and resources within this toolkit will help a registered dental hygienist take advantage of the exciting new professional opportunities that exist in providing preventive dental services in public health settings. All dental providers are advised to read and understand the rules and regulations governing the practice of dentistry in Massachusetts before providing dental care in a public health setting. The information contained in this toolkit is based on current literature in the year 2010, and should be used as a resource only.

Reporting Requirements

Each public health dental hygienist shall maintain data to be reported to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Office of Oral Health, (234 CMR 5.08(7)). Required reports must be submitted twice per year, on January 31st and July 31st, according to the timeframes outlined below:

  • For sites completed between January 1st and June 30th reports are due July 31st
  • For sites completed between July 1st and December 31st reports are due January 31st of the following year

*For example – if a site is started in May, but is not finished until August – reports for this site are not due until January 31st of the following year.

The reporting form(s) is to be filled out by an individual PHDH or a PHDH program. For reporting purposes, a PHDH program is defined as an established entity comprised of one or more PHDH providers. If a report is completed by a PHDH program, each PHDH providing any service at the site must be listed

An individual report must be filled out completely. Partially completed forms may not be saved and completed at a future date.

Access the electronic Adult Reporting Form.

Access the electronic Pediatric Reporting Form.

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