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UTHSC College of Dentistry Brings Inaugural Dental Education Course to East Tennessee


As part of its effort to expand access to dental care across the state, the College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, with assistance from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will hold its first dental education course in East Tennessee beginning on Monday, April 25.

The EFDA programs of the UTHSC College of Dentistry will help expand access to dental care in East Tennessee.
The EFDA programs aim to expand access to dental care across the state.

The Expanded Functions for Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) continuing education course will take place in the UT Culinary Institute and Creamery, 2712 Neyland Drive, on the UT Knoxville campus. A ceremonial “floss cutting” is set for 3 p.m., April 25, to kick off the class and recognize UTHSC College of Dentistry’s new presence in Knoxville.

The EFDA course trains credentialed dental assistants and dental hygienists to perform certain procedures currently done by licensed dentists, thereby expanding the delivery of dental care. These procedures include some restorative and prosthetic care, including placement of fillings, temporaries for crowns, and making impressions for various fixed and removable dental protheses. Since the EFDA program began in 2006 on the Memphis campus, the College of Dentistry has qualified approximately 2,000 dental assistants and dental hygienists to extend the work of dentists.

“The EFDA does play a big part in addressing the access to care crisis that we have in Tennessee,” said Jerry McKinney, DDS, FICD, assistant professor and director of the Expanded Functions Programs in the UTHSC College of Dentistry. “If you have an EFDA in your office doing restorative dentistry, it can increase the number of patients seen in an office a minimum of 15% up to 40%. That’s huge.”

“We are very excited about this opportunity,” said James Ragain, DDS, MS, PhD, FICD, FACD, dean of the UTHSC College of Dentistry. “It has been proven that EFDA-trained dental auxiliaries increase the number of patients that can be treated by dentists. Therefore, this program factors into our plans of improving access to dental care across Tennessee. This collaboration between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a fantastic example of our motto, One UT.”

The first EFDA class in Knoxville begins April 25.
The EFDA program trains dental auxiliary to perform certain procedures under supervision.

The EFDA program has two tracks. The restorative class credentials dental auxiliary in restorative procedures, including placing composite or amalgam restorations after the dentist has prepped the tooth. The prosthodontics class allows graduates to perform procedures, including making master impressions, creating temporaries, and taking bites for crowns and bridges. All procedures are performed with supervision from a licensed dentist.

The first course beginning April 25 will be the restorative track, lasting two weeks and training 10-15 students, Dr. McKinney said. He said the college had long searched for a location suitable for setting up the portable mannikin heads and electric hand tools necessary for the training, and is grateful to UT Knoxville for the space for the inaugural class and future EFDA classes.

“Just about every UTHSC college has some sort of presence on the UTK campus, except for dentistry,” he said. “As far as we know, this is the first time there has ever been a presence of the UTHSC College of Dentistry on the UTK campus, which is a big deal for us.”

“We are proud to join with our colleagues at the UT Health Science Center and support the important work they do in providing critical training and supporting opportunities for people to get the care that they need,” said Donde Plowman, PhD, chancellor of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. “We are always looking for new ways to partner with our colleagues at UTHSC to benefit Tennesseans and beyond.”