KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The College of Dentistry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center has held the first dental education course in East Tennessee.

The Expanded Functions for Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) continuing education course will take place in the UT Culinary Institute and Creamery on the UT Knoxville campus. The class was kicked off on April 25 with a ceremonial “floss cutting”. The ceremony also recognizes UTHSC College of Dentistry’s new presence in Knoxville. The course will last two weeks and will train 10 to 15 students.

“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.”

EFDA trains credentialed dental assistants and dental hygienists to perform some procedures usually done by licensed dentists. According to UT, this will help to expand the delivery of dental care. The procedures include restorative and prosthetic care, including placement of fillings, temporaries for crowns, and making impressions for various fixed and removable dental prostheses. The program has two tracks, the restorative class and the prosthodontics class.

“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.”

Since the EFDA program begin in 2006 on the Memphis campus, 2,000 dental assistants and dental hygienists have become qualified to extend the work of dentists.

“Just about every UTHSC college has some sort of presence on the UTK campus, except for dentistry,” McKinney 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

The College of Dentistry has been looking for a suitable location for setting up the portable mannikin heads and electric hand tools necessary for the training and McKinney is thankful to UT Knoxville for the space to house the program.