Open Access Open Badges Research article

Managing dental emergencies: A descriptive study of the effects of a multimodal educational intervention for primary care providers at six months

Tony Skapetis1*, Tania Gerzina2 and Wendy Hu3

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Director of Education Westmead Centre for Oral Health, Western Sydney Local Health District, University of Sydney faculty of Dentistry, PO Box 533, Wentworthville, NSW 2145, Australia

2 Jaw Function and Orofacial Pain Unit, Faculty of Dentistry, Division of Health, Westmead Centre for Oral Health, University of Sydney, Westmead Australia 2145, Australia

3 University of Western Sydney School of Medicine, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:103  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-103

Published: 30 October 2012



Clinicians providing primary emergency medical care often receive little training in the management of dental emergencies. A multimodal educational intervention was designed to address this lack of training. Sustained competency in managing dental emergencies and thus the confidence to provide this care well after an educational intervention is of particular importance for remote and rural healthcare providers where access to professional development training may be lacking.


A descriptive study design with a survey instrument was used to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief educational intervention for primary care clinicians. The survey was offered immediately before and at six months following the intervention. A Wilcoxon signed rank test was performed on pre and six month post-workshop matched pair responses, measuring self-reported proficiency in managing dental emergencies. The level of significance was set at pā€‰<ā€‰0.001. Confidence intervals (CI) were calculated for participants who scored an improved proficiency.


The educational intervention was associated with a significant and sustained increase in proficiency and confidence to treat, especially in oral local anaesthesia, management of avulsed teeth and dental trauma, as reported by clinicians at six months after the education. This was associated with a greater number of cases where dental local anaesthesia was utilised by the participants. Comments from participants before the intervention, noted the lack of dental topics in professional training.


The sustained effects of a brief multimodal educational intervention in managing dental emergencies on practice confidence and proficiency demonstrates its value as an educational model that could be applied to other settings and health professional groups providing emergency primary care, particularly in rural and remote settings.

Dental; Emergencies; Education; Medical; Proficiency; Confidence; Model