Regulation of Dental Hygienists: Its Effect on Disciplinary Action and Opinions of Regulatory Board Members in the United States and Canada

Date of Award

Summer 1994

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Michele L. Darby

Committee Member

Deborah Bauman

Committee Member

JoAnn R. Gurenlian

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.D46M84


The purpose of this study was two-fold. The first was to examine the effect of regulatory status (dentist versus dental hygienist control) on disciplinary sanctions for dental hygiene practitioners. The second was to assess the opinions of board members concerning the regulation of the practice of dental hygiene. Regulatory bodies from jurisdictions with and without dental hygiene self-regulation in both Canada and the United States respectively were examined to determine if differences exist in opinions and sanctions exercised by the two. A self-designed questionnaire titled the Mueller-Dental Hygiene Regulatory Questionnaire was used to obtain descriptive data on a sample of 44 members of boards regulating dental hygiene.

The questionnaire was divided into three sections, "Disciplinary Sanctions," "Opinions," and "Demographics." Data obtained in the "Disciplinary Sanctions" portion of the study were from dentist controlled boards only. Members of dental hygienist controlled boards were unable to complete information concerning disciplinary sanctions, as they were newly formed and had not yet exercised disciplinary sanctions against dental hygiene practitioners. Data from the dentist controlled boards showed a great variability and no set standard for exercising disciplinary sanctions against dental hygiene practitioners was observed. Data obtained in the "Opinions" portion of the study were analyzed using the Kendall Taub measure of association. The results suggest wide variability in the opinions of both dentist and dental hygienist controlled boards concerning the regulation of the practice of dental hygiene. The Board members' opinions regarding the right of the dental hygiene profession to be self-regulated, whether dental hygiene should have regulatory autonomy from dentistry, whether self-regulation would benefit dental hygiene as a profession and whether dental hygienists on separate regulatory boards can more accurately monitor themselves are all strongly associated with the type of board the respondent was from. The two areas with the weakest association related to dental hygienists being educated enough to become self-regulated and dental hygiene self-regulation leading to independent practice.


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