Dental hygienists in Belgium: Fact or myth?

Last week FOCUS Editorial Director Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS, attended a scientific meeting of the Belgian Society of Periodontology in Brussels, Belgium, called “Hygienists in Belgium: Where are we today?” Although there is currently no dental hygienist designation in Belgium, Goldie indicates that serious discussion has taken place about the possible introduction of the profession in the country in the next few years.

Mar 1st, 2013
Where Are We Fo

I was invited by France Lambert, Dentiste Spécialiste en Parodontologie, PhD, Vice-president of the Belgian Society of Periodontology, and President of the Scientific Commission of the Belgian Society of Periodontology, to represent the United States at the above scientific meeting held February 23, 2013, in Brussels, Belgium. As you may know, Belgium still doesn't have dental hygienists!

Dokter Michèle Reners and Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

There were several speakers, as well as an animated and provocative panel discussion. The morning session was dedicated to three dental hygienists from the Netherlands, Italy, and the USA, providing testimony on why Belgium should have dental hygienists, and how it works in their own country.

The moderator of the hygienist’s session was Dokter Emmanuel Englezos, who is a periodontist and implantologist, and practices with his wife Dokter Katrien Vermylen, also a periodontist and the secretary of the Belgian Society of Periodontology. Two dentists, Dokter Pierre C. Baehni, holding a Diploma and a Doctorate in Dental Medicine from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and Dokter K. Kaiser, who presented the concept of a preventive dental practice, discussed prevention and the need for the dental hygiene profession to be introduced to Belgium.

Dokter Michèle Reners, past president of the Belgian Society of Periodontology and president elect of the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) moderated the panel, along with the current President of the Belgian Society, Dokter Tommie Van de Velde.

Left to right: President: Dokter Tommie Van de Velde; Dokterr France Lambert; Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS; Dokter Emmanuel Englezos, and Dokter Katrien Vermylen

As mentioned, there is currently no dental hygiene profession or designation in Belgium. There has been a serious discussion regarding introduction of the profession in the next few years. Most dentists and periodontists do not have the experience of working and cooperating with hygienists, and a large part of the Belgian dental community faces this issue with a great deal of skepticism.

We were asked to present the current position of dental hygienists in the oral health care community in our respective countries. Our focus was on the actual state of affairs of the average dental hygienist in practice in our country. Education, practice settings, duties, and anything else we felt appropriate were asked to be presented.

My presentation focused on: History of dental hygiene (100th anniversary of the profession is 2013); Educational highlights; Standards of clinical dental hygiene practice; Trends in practice; ADHP and other advanced practice models; and Future of the profession. Many thanks to Pamela J. Steinbach, RN, MS, Director, Education & Research, American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), for her tremendous help with my presentation.

At the end of the meeting, the audience was asked how many supported the introduction of dental hygienists in Belgium. While the photo above is a bit blurry, and only about one third of the audience, is a fair representation of the audience response. I think we did our job well!

On another note, Hu-Friedy has relaunched its website The new site was designed to enhance functionality and dramatically improve user experiences with improved product interaction, increased speed, and improved navigation. Other added features include the following: Enhanced product catalog; Upgraded search function; Improved access to services and support; Continued community commitment; and Social media sharing, including sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Enjoy the newsletter!


Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS

To read previous RDH eVillage FOCUS introductions by Maria Perno Goldie, go to introductions.

To read more about the changing landscape of dental hygiene, click here.

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