Objective: A survey of European dental schools was conducted in 2006 to determine the curricular structure, techniques and materials used in local anaesthesia teaching to dental students.
Materials and methods: A questionnaire was designed to collect information about local anaesthesia education. The questionnaires were sent to the Dean of each dental school in Europe and Israel; 49 returned the completed survey, resulting in a response rate of 18.4%.
Results: Results from this survey show that dental schools are managing local anaesthesia education in different ways. At most schools, theoretical teaching begins during the first half of the third year (41%), half a year before the practical instruction (43%). In 37% of the dental schools, students use non-human objects to practice before they inject an anaesthetic in humans. The first injection in humans, usually a fellow student (61%), is mostly supervised by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (65%). The number of injections under supervision usually depends on the individual capabilities of the student (41%). Ten per cent of the schools need permission of a medical ethics committee for the practical instruction on fellow students. All dental curricula include teaching of mandibular block anaesthesia. The majority also include instruction of infiltration anaesthesia of the upper (98%) and lower (92%) jaws in addition to infra-orbital block anaesthesia (57%). Although 82% of the schools are satisfied with the current curriculum with regard to local anaesthesia, 43% are planning changes, frequently the introduction of preclinical training models.
Conclusion: Local anaesthesia teaching programmes show considerable variation across the surveyed European dental schools.