The College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) is preparing to increase the number of registered dental hygienists and dental assistants it certifies to perform some restorative or prosthetic functions, including placement of fillings, temporaries for crowns, and making impressions for various fixed and removable dental procedures.
UTHSC officials hope to increase availability and accessibility of dental care in the community and across the state. The goal of the college is to double the number of participants it enrolls in the Expanded Functions for the Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) continuing education course, which trains dental hygienists and assistants to perform certain procedures currently done by licensed dentists.
The college plans to increase enrollment up to 210 students in the EFDA restorative course, and 40 in the EFDA prosthetics course starting January 1, 2020.
"The population in Tennessee has grown substantially in the last 15 years and a lot of areas in the state are in great need of improved access to dental care," said Jerry McKinney, DDS, assistant professor in the Department of General Dentistry and Director of EFDA.
"The dentists who are in those areas are overwhelmed and need help meeting the dental needs of the community. The EFDA program is one answer to getting help to these undeserved areas - both rural and urban areas, such as downtown Memphis or Nashville."