Teledentistry-assisted, affiliated practice for dental hygienists: An innovative oral health workforce model

Fred F. Summerfelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The 2010 U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) calls for training programs to develop mid-level dental health care providers to work in areas with underserved populations. In 2004, legislation was passed in Arizona allowing qualified dental hygienists to enter into an affiliated practice relationship with a dentist to provide oral health care services for underserved populations without general or direct supervision in public health settings. In response, the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Dental Hygiene Department developed a teledentistry-assisted, affiliated practice dental hygiene model that places a dental hygienist in the role of the mid-level practitioner as part of a digitally linked oral health care team. Utilizing current technologies, affiliated practice dental hygienists can digitally acquire and transmit diagnostic data to a distant dentist for triage, diagnosis, and patient referral in addition to providing preventive services permitted within the dental hygiene scope of practice. This article provides information about the PPACA and the Arizona affiliated practice dental hygiene model, defines teledentistry, identifies the digital equipment used in NAU's teledentistry model, give an overview of NAU's teledentistry training, describes NAU's first teledentistry clinical experience, presents statistical analyses and evaluation of NAU students' ability to acquire diagnostically efficacious digital data from remote locations, and summarizes details of remote applications of teledentistry-assisted, affiliated practice dental hygiene workforce model successes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-742
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


  • Affiliated practice dental hygiene
  • Dental hygiene
  • Digital diagnostic data
  • Mid-level dental health care practitioner
  • Teledentistry
  • Underserved populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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