Dental Hygiene Expanded Functions
Different state dental boards maintain various standards for what legally constitutes "expanded functions" for a licensed dental hygienist. For instance, the Dental Hygiene Board of California recognizes laws and regulations presented in the California Dental Practice Act as defining the specific duties that dental hygienists in different categories can legally perform. They also define the level of dentist supervision that is required, as well as the specific clinical settings in which specific duties can be performed. These protocols are set forth in sections 1900 through 1967.4 in California's Business and Professions Code.
California Dental Board Hygienist Expanded Functions
In California, dental hygienists in extended functions can perform all duties (in addition to general dental hygiene treatment) that a dental assistant in extended functions can perform. Typical extended duties (which may vary from state to state) include:
Taking impressions for whitening trays or trays for delivery of medicaments
Caries removal using hand instrumentation (not rotary instrumentation)
Placement of temporary restorations
Taking final impressions for indirect restorations
Cementation of final restorations
Placing and carving amalgam restorations
Placing, contouring, and finishing composite restorations
With the current trend in the medical field of delegating treatment duties and responsibilities to physician's assistants, and nurse practitioners, it is not surprising that the dental field is following suit with the delegation of expanded duties to licensed dental hygienists and dental assistants. Practitioners should contact their individual dental board to determine the expanded functions allowed by their state and the clinical training, supervision, and testing requirements to qualify for enhanced licensure.