The eighth and final program learning outcome adopted from the national competencies for an entry-to-practice dental hygienist is the dental hygienist as a health promoter…..
According to the ‘Entry-To-Practice Competencies and Standards for Canadian Dental Hygienists January 2010’, “Health promotion: The process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health. It not only embraces actions directed at strengthening the skills and capabilities of individuals, but also action directed towards changing social, environmental and economic conditions so as to alleviate their impact on public and individual health. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) describes five key strategies for health promotion: build healthy public policy; create supportive environments for health; strengthen community action for health; develop personal skills; and re-orient health services.
This competency is important in the ‘bigger picture’ of dental hygiene. For example, to get to the creation of the term ‘self-initiated dental hygienist’, policy had to be changed. Government had to be lobbied to make changes in the law, but the grass roots were providing the accessibility of quality dental hygiene care to all individuals, stemming from the promotion of health. Promoting good oral health, not only to clients when in the chair of a dental hygienist, is also a foundation of change in health policy, affecting people of a much grander scale.
As a result, some examples of abilities that dental hygiene students are expected to demonstrate as health promoters are as follows:
- Review reports on the Health Canada website to identify issues facing different groups within our society. Provide clients with the maps and telephone contact numbers of low cost dental clinics.
- Encourage clients to use products to substitute for decreased salivary flow. Encourage community elders to discuss smoking cessation strategies with community teenagers and the integration of healthy foods in school cafeterias.
- Encourage parents to purchase sports guards for their children involved in sports. Support establishment of safe brushing strategies in schools and day care centers.
Dental hygiene impacts not only individual clients, but also the community, which in essence is a client.
 Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Core Competencies for Public Health in Canada: Release 1.0. Ottawa: PHAC, 2007. Available on line at www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/core_competencies and www.aspc-phac.gc.ca/competences_essentielles.