By Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH
Providing compassionate, comprehensive quality care for patients is the goal of the dental hygiene practice. Many states permit dental hygienists to administer local anesthesia for both hygiene and restorative patients. Hygienists learn the skills necessary to perform local anesthesia through dental hygiene educational programs or continuing education programs. Refresher courses are also offered as CE for those who might feel they need a review or an update of their techniques.
Laura J. Webb, RDH, MS, CDA, MAADH, offers dental professionals the best of both worlds - anesthesia education and compassionate care - in her programs on pain control, local anesthesia, and periodontal instrumentation. Laura owns LJW Education Services, which provides custom consulting services for program development, accreditation and teaching methodology workshops for dental hygiene educational programs, and continuing education programs for dental professionals.
Objectives of Laura Webb’s seminars
Laura Webb’s pain control and local anesthesia courses are designed to provide a review and update on products and procedures for nonsurgical periodontal therapy. Participants might also review landmarks and target areas for injection sites using models or partners. Some of the topics covered include:
- Review of the rationale and indications for local anesthesia in nonsurgical periodontal therapy;
- Discussion of the factors that influence local anesthesia agent selection, dose, armamentarium, and injection type;
- Consideration of new armamentarium and pharmacology updates;
- Review of drug interactions, local and systemic effects, and how to manage these issues;
- Examination of techniques and problem-solving skills for local anesthesia; and
- Discussion of needle-free modalities for pain control that are currently in study and development.
- The programs for dental hygiene educators explore the approaches to curriculum design, content, methodologies and collaborative learning approaches. In addition to hands-on clinical teaching, topics include:
- Examination of the challenges dental hygiene programs face to ensure that students attain and maintain competency and confidence in local anesthesia delivery;
- Understanding how curriculum design facilitates students’ learning;
- Demonstration of strategies that support balance in teaching, learning, and testing;
- Discussion of teaching techniques to overcome common student errors; and
- Review of evaluation tools for self-assessment, monitoring progress, and skill testing throughout the students’ clinical experiences.
Laura believes that local anesthesia offers patients a valuable service. Dental hygienists need to develop strategies to be knowledgeable and confident in their technique and choices. It is a lifelong process that begins in the educational setting. Educators need to introduce content and concepts throughout the curriculum and provide unbiased, evidence-based strategies for treatment planning, delivery, and self-evaluation.
Many practicing hygienists have expressed that their most challenging barrier to using local anesthesia is infrequent use. Hygienists who don’t perform these skills regularly begin to lose confidence in their knowledge and abilities. Consequently, hygienists avoid planning to use local anesthesia in patients who would benefit, and thus a vicious cycle ensues. Laura encourages other team members, especially dentists, to attend her programs. This allows for a collaborative approach and helps other team members understand the needs and challenges dental hygienists face in providing care.
Laura began her research in local anesthesia as preparation for developing and teaching a 75-hour introductory local anesthesia course for Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC) dental hygiene program in Nevada. She had been providing local anesthesia in her general and periodontal practices for years and understood it as a value-added service for patients and practices.
Her programs include handouts of important PowerPoint slides, images, and useful articles. If the attendee group is small, she uses samples, models, and skulls to facilitate a hands-on approach. Her programs are interactive with colorful imagery, and she encourages questions.
Education is in Laura’s blood. She is a graduate of Foothill College’s dental hygiene program. She completed a bachelor’s degree in biological science at San Jose State University and a master’s degree in health service administration at the University of St. Francis. While she was in high school and college, she was a student teacher. During hygiene school, she worked as an assistant clinical instructor in dental assisting coronal polishing courses. She enjoys sharing information and seeing the satisfaction of students as they learn new information.
After graduation, she worked in clinical hygiene and worked part-time as a dental assisting instructor and independent CE provider. When she moved to Nevada, she discovered few teaching opportunities were available to her - until a dental hygiene program was proposed at TMCC. She wrote the program’s learning outcomes for the Nevada System of Higher Education State Board of Regents and was later hired as the founding dental hygiene program director. During her tenure at TMCC, she served as an American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation (ADA CODA) consultant site visitor and evaluated many dental hygiene programs. She retired several years ago from TMCC to focus on her company, LJW Education Services.
Laura is passionate about enjoying life with friends and family and traveling with her husband, Terry, and their Jack Russell terrier, Jackie. She enthusiastically promotes quality in dental hygiene care and services. Laura was a member of the ADHA for three decades and served as a delegate to the Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association for several years. Her concerns about dental hygiene include maintaining the quality of dental hygiene education in spite of crowded programs and the employment challenges faced by new graduates and seasoned professionals due to the increase in the number of dental hygiene educational programs.
Laura describes herself as dedicated, quality-oriented, and passionate. If she were not a hygienist, she could see herself as a biology professor or aesthetician because she enjoys working with people and contributing to their knowledge and well-being.
She feels that she entered dental hygiene at the best of times and has enjoyed a variety of roles within the profession. She has no regrets about her career choice. Laura is proud of many accomplishments she has made during her dental hygiene career: improving periodontal protocols for rural patients, creating a highly respected and quality-oriented dental hygiene education program, authoring numerous articles and textbook chapters, receiving the American Dental Hygienists’ Association’s Alfred C. Fones Award, and sharing relevant topics with her peers. Working with diverse groups of professionals, educators, and clinicians inspires Laura to enjoy all facets of dental hygiene while imparting the skills and knowledge to improve patient care to others.
Thought for the month:
“When work seems like a job, I don’t do it anymore. I always want it to be something I’m interested in and something that challenges me.” - Jill Wagner
ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].