Oral health is strongly connected to overall health situation. The dental hygienist is the key provider of preventive oral care (primary and secondary prevention) to promote and improve the oral health of individuals, families and groups in society. The dental hygienist possesses the necessary professional qualifications and is able to provide patient-centred, holistic and evidence based preventive oral care independently, through activation of the necessary networks if requested. The dental hygienist must possess a wide range of competences, knowledge and skills to provide the highest quality of patient care at all times.
“Dental Hygienist” is a well-established professional figure in many European countries. The curriculum of students in Dental Hygiene is similar in Europe, but there are considerable differences about job profile and job description of the dental hygienist.
In 2016, European Dental Hygienist Federation has developed a document to contribute to the amendment of the Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC, but the path to a common definition and an adjustment of the professional skills in Europe has not yet concluded.
Moreover, even if collaboration with other stakeholders is essential to detect and prevent oral disease, a toolkit of good practices -shared and recognized- at European level do not exist, especially related to
the operational modalities of cooperation between dental hygienists and patients and dental hygienists and other professionals (such as oral pathologists, paediatricians, caregivers).
Currently, the partnership is under construction and partners involved are from Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain. It is a mixed partnership and the objectives of the proposal are the following:
- Strengthen the dental hygienist profession by working towards recognition of the profession in European countries and in EU directives;
- Developing high-quality VET with a strong work-based learning component, including innovative learning models;
- Promoting easily accessible and career-oriented continuing VET;
- Promoting cooperation between associations, educational institutions, non-profit organizations and the ICT sectors through the development, implementation and transfer of innovative practices, tested in each country and shared across Europe.
- Promoting the digitization of quality learning content and the development of ICT as a tool to improve the training and practices policies in the dental hygienist profession
- Promoting innovative solutions to recognize and validate skills acquired through informal, non-formal and digital learning in oral care sector.