Local Anesthesia for the Dental Hygienist

In late 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners passed SB 146, allowing dental hygienists to become certified to administer local anesthetics. A dental hygienist must complete a local anesthesia certification course to be certified to administer local anesthesia.

I provide local anesthesia courses in three different ways. All three ways use the same didactic material.

  1. North Carolina Dental Hygienists’ Association – courses are larger-scale; sponsored by the NCDHA in various locations.
  2. Alamance Community College, Wilkes Community College, and Western Piedmont Community College- courses are kept to a maximum of 9 participants; the clinical component is in the Community College’s dental assisting clinic.
  3. PACE-sponsored continuing education provider- clinical component of the course is held in your office; 3 – 9 participants. The PACE-sponsored route is right for you if you want clinical instruction in your office. It will allow your hygienists to take the course together in a comfortable, familiar environment.

The local anesthesia course consists of two components.

Didactic material

The first part of the course is taken online and covers neurophysiology, pharmacology, local and topical anesthetics, vasoconstrictors, medical emergencies, components associated with local anesthesia, patient assessment, and legal considerations. As the State Board requires, this instruction must be at least 16 hours. The didactic component of the course consists of 14 modules that are self-paced and can be taken at any time. The online component must be completed before attending the clinical instruction. A competency examination on this material is given at the beginning of the clinical instruction. A score of 80 or above is required to attend the clinical session.

Course notes, audio-visual presentations, videos, and review questions are provided and will help get the participant ready for the didactic examination.

Clinical instruction

The hands-on clinical instruction occurs over one day and covers a variety of materials. The clinical instruction begins with patient assessment, progresses into several hands-on activities, and ends with injection techniques. Injection techniques and the administration of local anesthesia will involve using anesthesia manikins, Safe-D-Needles, and peer patients.

Participants must sign a waiver stating they understand they are participating in their learning process and will be a peer patient, etc. Medical histories are taken on each participant, and no medical issues should prohibit receiving local anesthesia.

Please get in touch with me if you have any further questions or want to set up a local anesthesia certification course.