This study sought to identify and quantify complications with local anesthetic administration and reversal on consecutive patients seen for comprehensive dental care in a school-based, portable dental clinic, and includes data on the patients seen by the participating portable dental providers. In 923 dental visits where local anesthetic was administered, a standardized form was used to gain further information and identify any complications; this was accompanied by a questionnaire for the student's teacher, in order to quantify the student's distraction and disruption ratings following the dental visit. After statistical analysis of the 923 consecutive cases, the overall complication rate was 5.3%. All of the complications were considered to be mild or moderate, and there were no severe event reports. The complications encountered most frequently (n = 49) were associated with self-inflicted soft tissue injury. The results of this study indicate that comprehensive care with local anesthesia delivered by a school-based portable dental clinic has a low risk of complications. Whereas safe administration of dental care is achievable with or without phentolamine mesylate as a local anesthetic reversal agent, its use was determined to improve safety outcomes. Three factors appeared to directly increase the incidence of complications: the administration of an inferior alveolar nerve block, attention deficit disorder, and obesity. Teacher evaluations demonstrated that children receiving care by a portable dental team were able to reorient back to classwork and were not disruptive to classmates.
Keywords: community health; complications; dentistry; local anesthesia; phenotolamine.