Disciplinary actions associated with the administration of local anesthetics against dentists and dental hygienists. Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: Research studies have demonstrated the need for and the ability of dental hygienists to provide local anesthetics for pain control and reduction of patient anxiety. Although two-thirds of state dental practice laws allow these services to be performed by dental hygienists, controversy exists between organized dentistry and dental hygiene regarding the administration of local anesthetics by dental hygienists. Some dentists believe the quality of care would be compromised and patient safety jeopardized because dental hygienists do not have adequate background knowledge to prevent complications and recognize emergencies caused by anesthetics. The purpose of this study was to collect quantitative data addressing safety when dental hygienists administer local anesthetics. RESULTS: Eighteen responses were received, for a response rate of 69%. These data showed, over a 10-year period, no reports of disciplinary actions against dental hygienists for the administration of local anesthetics. CONCLUSION: This study affirmed public safety, which should be helpful to states considering statutes to allow the administration of local anesthetics by dental hygienists. Results suggest that properly educated dental hygienists in the states surveyed have administered local anesthetics to patients without harm.

published proceedings

  • J Dent Hyg

author list (cited authors)

  • Scofield, J. C., Gutmann, M. E., DeWald, J. P., & Campbell, P. R

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Scofield, JoAnn C||Gutmann, Marylou E||DeWald, Janice P||Campbell, Patricia R

publication date

  • January 2005