Changes to Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs | ADHA - American Dental Hygienists Association


Changes to Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs

As you are aware, ADHA led an effort for proposed revisions to the Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education Programs. CODA conducted three hearings on the proposed changes to the Accreditation Standards for Dental Hygiene Education programs, including the ADA Meeting in Atlanta, GA (Oct. 2017), the ADEA Meeting in Orlando, FL (Mar. 2018) and the ADHA Meeting in Columbus, OH (June 2018). In addition, written comments were accepted until June 1, 2018.

Following is a summary of the proposed revisions:

Dental Hygiene Diagnosis
The existing CODA definition of “dental hygiene diagnosis” was amended to reflect the entirety of dental hygiene diagnosis to include “identification of an individual’s health behaviors, attitudes, and oral health care needs.” Dental hygiene diagnosis has long been defined by CODA. It is appropriate to incorporate dental hygiene diagnosis into the national education standards. The proposed revisions did that.

Dental Hygiene Process of Care
This was a new proposed definition that clearly identifies the six components of the dental hygiene process of care: assessment, dental hygiene diagnosis, planning, implementation, evaluation, and documentation.

Interprofessional Education
This was a new proposed definition. In August 2016, CODA revised Standard 2-15, regarding communicating and collaborating with other members of the health care team to support comprehensive patient care. Providing a definition provides clarity, is relevant, reflects the evolving healthcare delivery team and would be appropriate to be included in CODA’s definition of terms.

Calibration of Dental Hygiene Faculty
A proposed addition to Standard 2-24, Curriculum Management, provided “a defined mechanism to calibrate dental hygiene faculty for student clinical evaluation.”

ADHA appointed CODA Commissioner, Dr. Susan Callahan Barnard, DHSc, RDH, presented the proposed revisions at the CODA Meeting on August 3, 2018. Several members of the Commission spoke against the proposed revisions, namely the changes to dental hygiene diagnosis. Some stated that any such change would be “possibly confusing for the patient.” Others maintained that only the dentist is qualified to diagnose.

CODA's Decision

Dental hygiene diagnosis remains in CODA’s definition of terms, unchanged, as it has been. Dental hygiene diagnosis was not reincorporated into the Standards. The proposed new definitions for “dental hygiene process of care” and “interprofessional education” were not approved and will not be added to the Standards.

The suggested addition to Standard 2-24 regarding dental hygiene faculty calibration was adopted, with an implementation date of January 2019.

ADHA Next Steps

ADHA will continue to press for these advances in the dental hygiene education standards. If you want to join ADHA in this effort, please contact ADHA Education & Practice Specialist, Vicki Pizanis, RDH, MS, EdD at .


CODA is responsible for accrediting all dental and dental-related programs. CODA’s mission is to serve the oral health care needs of the public through the development and administration of standards that foster continuous quality improvement of dental and dental related educational programs. The ADHA supports accreditation standards that prepare entry level dental hygienists to assume all the professional roles of a dental hygienist in a variety of settings to address the oral and overall health care needs of the public. In addition, ADHA actively monitors proposed changes or additions to the dental hygiene accreditation standards, and makes strategic recommendations based on ADHA policies and member feedback to best prepare dental hygienists for the evolving profession of dental hygiene.