Portable Equipment Staffing
III. Staffing

There may be a variety of staffing patterns for dental programs using portable dental equipment.

The dental or dental hygiene practitioner may go to various locations to provide solo care. This is more frequently done when dental procedures (e.g., examinations, dental cleanings, fluoride applications, prosthetics) are not as dependent upon 4-handed dental staff assistance. The overhead expenses in this case are less but production also may be diminished.

Dental hygienists in some states may now practice in public health or community-based settings under varying levels of dentist supervision. This allows them to provide more care using portable equipment. Check your state's practice act via the American Association of Dental Examiners Web site or check the information on the American Dental Hygienists' Association Web site to determine laws or regulations that might affect dental hygienists using portable equipment in various settings. Tribal nations in Alaska have developed new categories of providers to meet the needs of their isolated populations. These models are not yet available to most states. Also refer back to examples of state regulations included in the Mobile chapter.

Depending upon training, experience, and geographical considerations, the hourly rates for dental assistants may range from $12-$20+ per hour and hygienists from $27-$40+ per hour. Some states are starting to allow direct reimbursement by Medicaid to certain categories of dental hygienists working in community-based settings. Refer to the updated list on the ADHA website. In some states hygienists may also contract directly with programs or facilities, which may entail other types of charges (e.g., per day, per patient) rather than hourly fees.

Some unique job requirements for dental team members using portable equipment include prolonged periods of standing, walking, pushing, bending, kneeling and reaching at arm's length and overhead, and ability to lift/carry and push/pull up to 50 pounds, using appropriate body mechanics. General duties and responsibilities in the areas of patient management as well as equipment and dental laboratory responsibilities would be very similar to those in mobile dental systems, although some duties might be performed offsite at a home base. View examples of scopes of work for a dental assistant in a portable dental sealant practice and a dental hygienist coordinator for a sealant program.