Dental hygienist, especially those who are not yet that comfortable in administering various injections to patients, can now continue with their education to help increase their proficiency. A seminar was established to provide dental hygienist with an avenue to continue their education in the field of dental anesthesia.

RDH Mag reports that Andrew Johnston, RDH, BSBM has collaborated with the Dental Development Seminars to develop a program to assist hygienists with the practice and administration of local anesthesia. The program, which is called “Hands-on Anesthesia,” will bring dental hygienists to Guatemala each January. This program, which serves an underserved population, will allow hygienists the opportunity to mix their education with humanitarian aid.

A lot of states allow dental hygienists to perform local anesthetic injections and the requirements needed for training and certification usually varies per state. The varying programs usually cover armentarium, landmarks, pharmacology, and emergency management with a clinical component.

The clinical component of the program usually just involves administering injections to fellow students in a controlled environment. The problem is that once hygienists leave the program, he or she usually doesn’t feel comfortable administering various injections. That’s why Johnston’s seminar is crucial at it allows the dental hygienists to continue their training and practice.

Steve McLaren from the World Continuing Education Alliance, commented, “The dental industry is constantly changing. Technology plays a huge role in dentistry and we are seeing new innovations almost on a weekly basis”.

The Dental Development Seminars’ Drs. Tommy Murph and Gayle Fletcher, both dentists, accompany Johnston in this program. All three provides 48 hours of continuous education to dental hygienists during the weeklong program. Though the program takes place several times a year, it is only in January where Johnston provides the full didactic and clinical program.

In this program, dental hygienists learn the science and technique of delivering local anesthesia through didactic lecture and multiple one-on-one opportunities. Hygienists are paired with doctor teams for four days after finishing their didactic lecture. The dental hygienists, together with the doctors, deliver hundreds of block injections prior to extractions.

Once the program ends, dental hygienists are expected to be more proficient and more competent in administering local anesthetic injection. Their proficiency should include identify armentarium used in local anesthesia; understand properties of local anesthetic agents; explain indications and contraindications to local anesthetic use; and review the pharmacology and neurophysiology of local anesthesia.

Dental hygienists are also expected to be able to identify oral landmarks and anatomical variances; discuss and demonstrate maxillary and mandibular blocks, infiltration techniques, and other supplemental techniques; and recognize and be able to treat emergency situations associated with local anesthetic delivery.

The program doesn’t only improve the dental hygienists’ proficiency and competency, but it also increases their confidence level, especially when it comes to the effectivity of their injections. Johnston estimates that hygienists report 90 to 95 percent accuracy in their IA blocks after working with doctors in the program.

The “Hands-on Anesthesia” program can benefit all dental hygienists, whether they are new to local anesthetic injection or someone who already has experience, as a more advanced block can also be taught. Johnston believes that the key for hygienists to succeed in the program is to have an open mind and repetition.

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