by Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FAADH
Team teaching in dental hygiene is often used when presenting and discussing difficult topics. Teaching dental hygienists local anesthesia and nitrous oxide administration can be quite a challenge. However, for Sheryl Armstrong, RDH, BS, and Chris Usinger, RDH, BS, team teaching has developed into a continuing-education program called “Anesthesiology for Dental Hygienists.”
Sheryl is a full-time faculty member at Mohave Community College in Arizona, and Chris is a practicing hygienist and adjunct faculty member at Oregon Health Sciences University. They met during a class Chris was presenting on spa dentistry at Clark College in Washington several years ago. There was no one available to introduce Chris as the speaker, so Sheryl was appointed. They have remained friends ever since.
About a year ago, Sheryl moved to Arizona. With this move, her director at Mohave College wanted to know if she was interested in doing a continuing-education program on local anesthesia. Sheryl and Chris reconnected to collaborate on the project.
As more states allow dental hygienists the opportunity to administer pain control, “Anesthesiology for Dental Hygienists” was developed as a five-day (Monday through Friday), 36-hour course that prepares dental hygienists to successfully pass their written and practical regional board exams. Based on Dr. Stanley Malamed’s text, Handbook of Local Anesthesia, fifth edition, participants are presented with a variety of opportunities to learn and practice the skills they need to apply appropriate pain control measures for their patients. Upon completion of the course participants will:
- Demonstrate knowledge of head and neck anatomy as it relates to injection techniques
- Understand the indications and contraindications for the use of local anesthesia and nitrous oxide
- Explain the neurophysiology of local anesthetics
- Understand the causes and treatments of local and systemic complications, and be proficient in dealing with medical emergencies following local anesthesia/nitrous oxide administration
- Provide a historical perspective of inhalation sedation and local anesthesia administration
- Demonstrate nitrous oxide/local anesthetic armamentarium.
In addition, participants will demonstrate clinical competency on a student partner with the following injections:
- Posterior superior alveolar (PSA)
- Middle superior alveolar (MSA)
- Anterior superior alveolar (ASA)/infraorbital nerve block
- Greater palatine nerve block (GP)
- Nasopalatine nerve block (NP)
- Inferior alveolar nerve block (IA)/lingual nerve block
- Buccal nerve block
- Mental/incisive nerve block
The course was inspired by Dr. Malamed, the leading authority in anesthesiology in dentistry. Preventing pain during dental and dental hygiene procedures is the goal of all practitioners and the desire of our patients. Sheryl
and Chris believe that as hygienists we must have confidence in our ability to provide painless preventive health care to all patients.
The format of the program is PowerPoint with daily lectures, handouts, clinical demonstration, and active participation. Their presentation style is interactive with collaborative, informal group discussions. Participants are given plenty of opportunity to become proficient in the administration of the various injections.
Sheryl received her associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Yakima Valley College and her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Washington University. She is currently the resident faculty/clinical coordinator at Mohave in Bullhead City, Ariz., after more than 21 years of dental hygiene practice.
Chris obtained her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from Oregon Health Sciences University and has been employed for 29 years in private practice, public health, and community service. She currently works part time in a cosmetic/esthetic practice, and she serves as adjunct faculty in periodontology for first-year dental students at OSHU. She has volunteered for a number of years in dental health projects such as mobile clinics and sealant missions in Honduras. She began presenting continuing-education programs on relaxation and spa dentistry to dental hygiene students and local study clubs. Her programs are known for their humor, and she usually adds an element of surprise!
Both Chris and Sheryl are ADHA members, and Chris is also a member of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Both believe that as professionals we need to take responsibility for promoting and involving ourselves in the dental hygiene profession. They both love sharing their passion with audiences and helping course participants learn as much as they can about the subjects they present. Chris said, “Presenting CE courses is like tasting a hot fudge sundae for the first time. It’s fabulous!” Although local anesthesia is not really a hot fudge sundae, it can make a dental professional “the fabulous one” in the eyes of patients.
For more information about the Mohave local anesthesia course, contact Tracy Gift, dental programs director, at [email protected] or (928) 704-7793, or Sheryl Armstrong, RDH, BS, at [email protected] or (928) 758-3926, ext. 4796.
After spending more than 25 years in private practice, Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, BS, FAADH, is currently a faculty member at Mt. Ida College’s dental hygiene program. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and recently completed a master’s degree in education in instructional design. Ann-Marie has written numerous articles and provides continuing education programs for dental hygienists and dental team members. She can be reached at [email protected].