Date of Award

Summer 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Dental Hygiene


Dental Hygiene

Committee Director

Michele L. Darby

Committee Member

Lynn Tolle

Committee Member

Deborah Bauman

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.D46 B42 2004


The purpose of this study was to determine if time spent instrumenting class III, IV, and V calculus clients, either hand-activated or with an ultrasonic scaler, decreased the tactile sensitivity of the clinician, and if change occurs in index finger, middle finger, and thumb tactile sensitivity prior to and following 45-minute scaling episodes. This study also afforded an opportunity to determine if tactile sensitivity changed in the same dental hygiene students over a one-year period of time by comparing data with that of a similar study conducted in the fall of 2002. Random assignment and a sample size of 25 subjects comprised the research plan; final sample consisted of 21 second-year dental hygiene students. The participants' index finger, middle finger, and thumb of the dominant hand were pretested utilizing the Vibratory Sensory Analyzer (VSA) to yield baseline tactile sensitivity scores. After baseline data collection, participants scaled their clients for 45- minutes using either hand-activated or ultrasonic scalers, while being timed and monitored. Participant scaling group status was the same as in the previous study conducted by Ryan et al (2004). Upon completion of the 45-minute scaling episode, the participants' index finger, middle finger, and thumb were post-tested with the VSA. Two-way analysis of variance for repeated measures revealed that following 45-minutes of scaling a calculus class III, IV, or V patient with the ultrasonic scaler, tactile sensitivity increased on the thumb, middle finger, and index finger. Pretest scores and posttest scores were compared revealing a general decrease in the tactile sensitivity threshold for participants in the ultrasonic group indicating an increase in their tactile sensitivity. The thumb and index finger of participants in the hand-activated group experienced an increase in tactile sensitivity as well. However, the middle fingers of participants in the hand-activated group displayed a decrease in tactile sensitivity after their 45-minute scaling appointments. Of all of the fingers tested, the index finger portrayed the most tactile sensitivity both prior to and following the scaling procedures, which concurs with the finding of Ryan et al (2004). There was also a slight decrease in the experimental group's tactile sensitivity pretest scores compared to the pretest scores from the original Ryan et al (2004) study, though not at a statistically significant level. Therefore, there may be a link between ultrasonic scaling over time and a decrease in tactile sensitivity. These conclusions merit further clinical research to confirm if tactile sensitivity changes over time.


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