Healthy Communities

Dental Hygiene Collaborative Care

Dental Hygiene Collaborative Care

In 2011, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 89 which lead to the development of the Dental Hygienist Collaborative Care Program (DHCC). This allows registered dental hygienists who work under collaborative care permits with licensed dentists to deliver preventive dental services in public setting to underserved children and older adults.

What is the Public Health Issue?

At the request of the 2007 Arkansas General Assembly, a needs assessment entitled, “The Need for Dental Education in Arkansas,” was conducted. From this study, it is apparent that an Arkansas dental workforce shortage exists now and will worsen in the next 10 years. 

The overall shortage of dentists in Arkansas is further exacerbated by geographic mal-distribution of existing dentists and persistent socio-economic barriers. Arkansas has a total of 75 counties, 54 of which are rural. Sixty percent of the state’s dentists practice in just eight of the state’s 75 counties, although these eight counties have only 40% of the state’s population. Nineteen Arkansas counties are designated whole or in part Dental Health Professions Shortage Areas (HPSA). Five counties have no dentists at all.  

AR Dental Professional Shortage Map


Arkansas Dental Health Professional
      Shortage Area Map

        (Click to enlarge)



Under these conditions, how do we address the lack of access to dental care? How do we grow our workforce?  Using responsible, educated, and well-trained registered dental hygienists, dentists are able to expand preventive dental services into underserved areas.

Key Points

Making It Happen

Those hygienists wishing to practice Dental Hygiene Collaborative Care in conjunction with their consulting dentist must apply for permits from the Office of Oral Health of the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners.  It is strongly advised that the dental practice act and the rules and regulations of the Board of Dental Examiners and the Board of Health be read carefully (links provided in “Downloads” below).

Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners

Act 89 of 2011
Arkansas Department of Health/Office of Oral Health Application for Collaborative Practice
Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners DHCC permit application
Arkansas State Board of Health Rules & Regulations for Dental Hygiene Collaborative Care
Collaborative Practice Report-School Tiers
Dental Practice Act: Article XIX Dental Hygienist Collaborative Care Program

Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
© 2017 Arkansas Department of Health. All Rights Reserved.
4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867