Dental Hygiene ETDs

Publication Date



This study examined what New Mexico dentists have reported regarding the knowledge and confidence levels of dental hygienists in providing patient education on oral/systemic periodontal risk factors. Further examined were New Mexico dentists views are on structured SPT protocols that include dentist/dental hygienist patient education on major risk factors for oral/systemic disease, and referrals and consultation with primary physicians. Members of the New Mexico Dental Association (n-700) were asked to participate in a 20-question online survey. Survey questions focused primarily on the level of risk assessment for periodontal disease that New Mexico dentists report dental hygienists discussing with periodontal patients. It was predicted that New Mexico dentists do not believe that dental hygienists are lacking in knowledge or confidence when it comes to providing patient education on major risk factors for periodontal disease. Most of the New Mexico dentists who responded to this survey (76%) reported satisfaction with the knowledge of and patient education provided by a dental hygienist on all four of the risk factors studied (diabetes, cardiovascular disease [CVD], cigarette smoking, and parafunctional habits). Results indicated that parafunctional habits (bruxism) and occlusal appliance fabrication appear to be increasingly common links to supporting periodontal maintenance. No significant relationships were found in chi-square tests performed on demographic data—such as age and area of practice (rural vs. urban)—as being related to their experience and views on dental hygienist knowledge and structure in SPT protocols. Overall, New Mexico dentists support increasing education on periodontal risk factors and structured SPT protocols would be beneficial for a dental hygienist. Survey results reveal that 33% of New Mexico dentists witness dental hygienists with a 4-year degree have increased knowledge and confidence in discussing risk factors with periodontal patients, while 27% response said dental hygienist graduates from 4-year and 2-year study programs had equal amounts of knowledge and confidence. Positively, results showed New Mexico dentists' satisfaction with their dental hygienists' patient education, and support a team approach between dentist and dental hygienist for periodontal patient assessment.

Degree Name

Dental Hygiene

Level of Degree


Department Name

Dental Medicine

First Advisor

Nathe, Christine

First Committee Member (Chair)

Pizzanis, Vicki

Second Committee Member

Logothetis, Demetra




periodontal disease, systemic disease, diabetes, inflammatory disease, supportive periodontal therapy, dental parafunction

Document Type