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Dental Hygiene Regulation and Access to Oral Healthcare: Assessing the Variation across the US States


  • Tanya Wanchek is at the University of Virginia.


Regulations in many US states prevent dental hygienists (DHs) from fulfilling their potential to improve oral healthcare. Wing et al. found that stringent practice regulations lower DH wages and reduce access to care. We add licensure regulations to the analysis and estimate the simultaneous effect of licensure and practice restrictions on the DH labour market and access to care. The results are consistent with licensure restrictions reducing employment, practice restrictions reducing wages, and wage and employment rates jointly influencing the prevalence of dental office visits. These results suggest that in order to significantly improve access to oral healthcare, states need to consider how their entry and practice regulations interact to influence outcomes.