Results of a survey of current work practices and future aspirations of members of the Irish Dental Hygienists Association, relative to their scope of practice


Dental hygienists are not given the opportunity to use all of their skills, are enthusiastic about the future, and most would like to continue working in a team setting.


Background: Dental hygienists (DHs) in Ireland have a choice regarding undertaking further training to update their skills to the current scope of practice. No data exists in relation to how many DHs have updated their skills, how often they use these new skills and how confident they are in using them.

Purpose of the study: To identify the percentage of DHs who have the full range of skills currently included in the scope of practice for DHs, and  how regularly and confidently they are using these skills. It was opportune to also ascertain if DHs have encountered any barriers to using these skills, and their work practice aspirations for the future.
Materials and methods: An online survey was offered to all members of the Irish Dental Hygienists Association in August 2014 (n=189). The survey, which was piloted and revised, contained 13 questions relating to the profile, current work practices and future aspirations of the DHs.

Results: There was a 52% response rate. Most DHs were confident in their ability to carry out their skills. Some 22% had not updated their skills to include block local anaesthesia (LA). A high percentage of DHs reported never or hardly ever using the skills of block LA (40%), dental radiography (62%), placing temporary dressings (73%), or re-fitting crowns (82%). Reasons for not using these skills were provided by the DHs.

Conclusions: DHs rarely use some of their current skills; however, they are still interested in adding more skills to their scope of practice.

Journal of the Irish Dental Association 2016; 62 (1): 49-54

catherine waldron

Catherine Waldron
RDH MSc MA (Health Promotion)

Bairbre Pigott-Glynn
Student dental hygienist

Corresponding author: Catherine Waldron