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J Dent Hyg. 2011 Winter;85(1):67-74. Epub 2011 Jan 1.

Dental hygienists' evaluation of local anesthesia education and administration in the United States.

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Department of Anesthesiology, School of Dental Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



The goal of this project was to investigate the educational experiences and the use of local anesthesia by dental hygiene providers in the U.S.


Approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Pittsburgh and undertaken from February to May 2009, this study was designed using a questionnaire-based survey. Using a randomized list obtained via the American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA), the survey questionnaires were sent via mail to 1,200 dental hygienists in the U.S. Quantitative evaluations were confined to descriptive statistics including standard summation, an estimation of means and a valid percent for identified variables.


A total of 432 (n=432) of the 1,200 survey questionnaires were returned, which represents a 36% response rate. The respondents represented a total of 296 dental hygiene educational programs, and included practice sites that span all 50 states. Findings indicate that the majority of responding dental hygienists perceive a need for the use of this pain control modality in their practice and administer local anesthetic injections. Additionally, the majority of respondents that administer local anesthetic injections reported that they perform local anesthetic administration for cases in which the dentist provides total care. Furthermore, the results revealed that the hygienists that received training in the administration of local anesthesia injections reported a higher rate of educational preparedness in 6 of the 7 educational topics listed in this survey: local anesthesia related topics (local anesthesia administration, local anesthetic pharmacology and local anesthetic complications), basic pharmacology, medical emergency management and special needs care.


This examination parallels the results presented in previous studies, while offering new data relating to local anesthesia administration by dental hygienists. With the majority of dental hygienists reporting a perceived need and the use of this method of pain control, this practice appears to be a significant addition to overall dental care and dental hygiene education.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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