The U.S. private practice model needs to be modified to include a dental hygiene department that recognizes the contributions of dental hygienists in a different way. We need to develop a new dental hygiene model that recognizes the appropriate role of dental hygienists in a clinical practice. We need to do a better job of making dentists aware of just how valuable dental hygienists are. Like the nursing profession, we should start educating dentists, consultants, and others about the true value of dental hygienists in private practice settings.
We need to get rid of the stereotypes of the omnipotent dentist and the subservient dental hygienist. We must work hard to define the next level of the relationship, and it should include a synergistic approach to patient care.