Dental Assistants The role of a Dental Assistant is to help Dentists and Dental Hygienists carry out the duties of providing quality dental care to individuals as well as providing an environment with sterile equipment and a comfortable setting for the procedures to take place in. Dental assistants are a valuable resource to the area of dentistry. While they aren't qualified to perform cleanings or extensive dental procedures, they keep things moving at a steady pace. Their role is often behind the scenes getting everything ready. There are more duties to Dental Assistant than what meets the eye. Being a Dental Assistant takes a particular type of person. You have to enjoy working with the public. You also have to have confidence in your abilities. A sincere interest in the dental field and helping others are also recommended. Dental Assistants must have excellent communication skills as they are an important part of the patient and dental staff relationship. Dental Assistants generally review the medical history with the patient and help them feel comfortable prior to procedures taking place. The often explain what the procedure entails and what will be taking place. The Dental Assistant will be present during the procedure to assist either the Hygienist or the Dentist. During the procedure, the Dental Assistant will clear out the patient's mouth, adjust the chair, move the lights, and anything else that can make the experience better for the patient. After the procedure the Dental Assistant will explain follow up treatment to the patient as well as provide the patient will information to assist in the healing process. A Dental Assistant has to know how to prioritize their time to ensure all their duties are taken care of. One of the most important duties of a Dental Assistant is proper cleaning of all the dental tools. They must be properly sanitized. Each tool needs to be examined to ensure it is still usable. Dental assistants must also know what tools and equipment each dental procedure requires. This allows them to set up tool kits to have at the dental station prior to a procedure being done. Dentists and Dental Hygienists depend on the Dental Assistant being alert and prepared during all dental procedures. They want to have all the necessary tools at their fingertips for easy access and to allow them to remain concentrated on the patient and the procedure they are performing. In some states, Dental Hygienists are allowed to administer local anesthetics to prepare the patient for their procedures. A very important role of the Dental Assistant is to monitor the patient during the procedure. This may involve taking their vital signs. Other signs to watch for include changes in breathing patterns, disorientation, and a glazed look in the eyes. All of these can indicate an emergency situation. Patients may have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic or suffer a medical ailment such as a heart attack. Dental Assistants need to be prepared for such emergencies to arise and react calmly and quickly. It is important that every Dental Assistant is trained in CPR. They should also have emergency phone numbers in place if the need arises. It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant and other staff to do all they can for the patient until proper medical help arrives. Doing so can make the difference between life and death. The role of Dental Assistant involves wearing many hats. For those in the profession, they often enjoy having a variation in their daily routine. They love working with people as well as working in the dental profession. Being an effective Dental Assistant involves willingness to continuing learning. It requires a positive attitude and attention to details. The best Dental Assistants are those who know how to effectively communicate with the patients and the staff they work with. This is a great career for those who feel they can handle the ongoing needs that are placed in their hands. Why You Should Become a Dental Assistant Becoming a Dental Assistant offers you a great career working with people. You will generally be working under one or more dentists. This type of career will allow you to interact with many people as well as get to see various dental procedures take place first hand. This profession allows you the opportunity to participate in providing dental care as well as comfort to patients. Dental Assistants are often confused with Dental Hygienist. They perform different dental procedures. Dental Assistants help both dentists and hygienist. A Dental Hygienist cleans patient's teeth while the dentist performs procedures including fillings and bridges. Dental Assistants are in huge demand all over the Nation. It is anticipated that Dental Assistants will be among the fastest growing occupations between now and 2012. This means you will have job opportunities available most anywhere you choose to live. The pay for Dental Assistants varies by region, but is generally several dollars above minimum wage. Being a Dental Assistant will allow you to decide if you want to pursue a career as a tech, dental hygienist, or a dentist. You will get to see first hand just what such jobs entail. Employment as a Dental Assistant will help guarantee you job with normal hours of operation. This is very important, especially if you have a family you want to be spending your evenings and weekends with. In addition, you will generally have paid Holidays off as well. Most Dental Assistants receive a large discount on dental care for themselves, their spouse, and their children. This can be a great perk of the job that saves you a large sum of money in the end. Some of the duties Dental Assistants will perform include assisting with dental procedures, setting up dental rooms, performing X-rays, and completing lab work. The exact procedures you will be able to perform will depend on the licensing requirements in your state as well as the needs of the dental office you choose to work in. It is important to ask what procedures you will be performing during a job interview if a complete job description is not provided for you. If you enjoy working with people, having a daily routine that varies, and have excellent communication skills, then a career as a Dental Assistant might be right for you. Since you will be dealing with the public and other dental professionals throughout your day, the ability to communicate is going to make a big impact on how successful you will be as a Dental Assistant. Generally, the certification program for Dental Assistant is 1 year. The exact length of the program depends on your state requirements and the program you are enrolling in. In some states, you can be trained on the job in as little as three months. Most states require you to pass a Dental Assistant Exam for certification. Since technology and dental procedures continually improve, you will need to keep up with these changes as a Dental Assistant. Generally, such educational needs and trainings will be set up by your employer for you to attend at no charge. Becoming a Dental Assistant can be a fun and rewarding career for individuals with a desire to help others, provide comfort, and who has excellent communication skills. The amount of employment opportunities in the field are numerous, with the numbers continuing to climb as more and more people focus on the importance of good oral hygiene. Duties of Dental Assistants Dental Assistants are very versatile. They are well trained in a variety of areas to properly assist Dentists and Hygienists perform quality dental work on all individuals. The duties will depend on the state regulations, the type of dental facility, and how that particular facility has their operations set up. Often the smaller the dental facility, the more types of duties the Dental Assistant will be trained in. Typical Dental Assistant tasks include sterilizing instruments and setting up instrument trays. The proper cleansing and sterilizing of dental instruments is a detrimental part of providing quality service to all patients. Instrument trays are set up with the proper tools and equipment that can possibly be needed for a particular dental procedure. Dental Assistants get these materials together and in the area where the procedure will take place. This helps things run smoothly and allows the Dentist or Hygienist to remain focused on the procedure. It eliminates searching for each item as it is needed. Dental Assistants often remain with the dentist or Hygienist during the procedures. They are responsible for suction and for handing the instruments to the other staff throughout the procedures. They are also there to offer instant assistance if an emergency arises during the procedure. In some dental facilities, the Dental Assistant will monitor the vital signs of all patients as well as administer local anesthetics. Dental Assistants often help to make patients feel comfortable before, during, and after their procedures. They can offer a king word, help adjust lighting and chair position, and provide the patient with follow up information to care for their procedures. Dental Assistants are often asked to make phone calls and follow up on the recovery process for some patients after major procedures including root canals, bridges, and extractions. It is common for Dental Assistants to perform X-rays and other lab procedures including castings for caps and bridges. They often talk to patients about their medical history and any types of communicable diseases. They discuss proper care after procedures to ensure patients do all they can to allow their procedures to heal properly. They may even call in prescriptions as a courtesy to patients. Dental Assistants are trained in emergency procedures. While it is unlikely anything will go wrong in the dental office, occasionally it does. Some individuals suffer from an allergic reaction to the anesthetic and require medical attention. Others may swallow something and choke during a procedure. Other times a patient may stop breathing. Knowing CPR and properly monitoring vital signs are all valuable in a crisis situation in the medical facility. As you can see, Dental Assistants are often trained in a wide variety of processes and procedures. This will help ensure they keep busy as well as add variety to their daily routine in the workplace. Dental Assistants must learn quickly as well as pay attention to details. Their role is very important to the overall functioning of the entire dental facility. The duties of a Dental Assistant are constantly changing depending on the needs of the patients and changes in technology. It is important that Dental Assistants keep up on such changes. Often, their employer will require them to attend trainings, workshops, and seminars to keep up with all the changes and brush up in any areas necessary to provide the best possible services. Dental Assistant Training Pursing a career as a Dental Assistant can be very exciting. With so many employment opportunities to choose from, it is an excellent choice for those who are interested in working in the dental field, enjoy working with people, and enjoy some variety in their daily routine. The duties of a Dental Assistant vary according to patient need. Your job will be assisting the dentist and hygienist to deliver quality oral health care. If you are interested, contact your dentist and ask if you can shadow the office for a day to see what really goes on. Most will be very willing to accommodate your request. Dental Assistant training takes place either in a program at a Dental School or local college. Some dental offices choose to train their Dental Assistants in house without any schooling. Most Dental Assistant training programs last from 12 months to 24 months. It depends on the state requirements and the curriculum for the program you enroll in. You will learn the basic fundamentals of dentistry in these programs. Upon completing a Dental Assistant course, you will know eat type of dental instrument, the proper use of each, how to properly clean all tools, how to protect yourself from communicable diseases, and effective communication skills and techniques. Make sure the program you enroll in is accredited under your state regulations. If you are trained in a dental office, then you will get first hand experience of dental procedures as well as how that particular dental facility operates. If you choose to do this type of on the job training, take the time to research the dental office. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the State Board of Dentistry regarding complaints about that particular dentist. Do not accept a position with any dentist office that has received numerous complaints for their treatment of patients. Most states require Dental Assistants to obtain certification within 3 months of completing a program. On the job trained Dental Assistants are not eligible to take the certification exam until they have completed 2 years of on the job training. This is to ensure to the patients that all staff members have been properly trained. You can find out when such exams will be taking place by checking online or with the instructor of your Dental Assistant program. This exam with require both a written test of your knowledge and a presentation of your skills. The written portion will be based on the basic fundamentals of dental care and sanitation issues. The presentation will require you to show a state examiner your ability to properly cleanse and sanitize all instruments. You will likely be asked to perform several tasks for the state examiner to observe. This is done to verify your ability to perform what you learned in the classroom setting. Dental Assistant training is time well invested in your future, with a wonderful career in the dental field with numerous job opportunities. It is important to choose your training program wisely as you want to be a valued asset when you start trying to secure employment. Dental assistants are very valuable to the dental office and to patients. They are often the person patients come into contact with before and after their procedures. Dental Assistants can help patients who are afraid or nervous prior to a procedure taking place. Dental Assistant Licensing Requirements Licensing Requirements for Dental Assistants vary by state. In some states you don't even have to be licensed, only show that you have completed a Dental Assistant course of on the job training. If your particular state offers a licensing option, it is to your advantage to obtain licensing as you will have a better chance of being hired over those who aren't licensed. In general, you can also expect to be paid more than those who are qualified, yet not licensed. There are not Federal Guidelines in regards to Dental Assistant licensing. Everything takes place on the state level. The Dental Assistant licensing exam is often referred to as DAT, short for Dental Admission Test. The test may be complied of basic information including tools used in dental offices, procedures, safety, and technology. Many states require you to complete procedures you will actually use in a dental office for an examiner. This will likely include showing your skills on safety and proper cleansing of tools. Most Dental Assistant programs and on the job training programs are well aware of the licensing requirements in your state. The programs are customized to meet all those requirements and help prepare you for both the written and procedural portions of the exam. They can also assist you in finding out when the exam will be conducted in your area. Regardless if licensing is required in your state or not, not employers require Dental Assistants to complete a background check prior to starting employment. This is for the safety and protection of the patients as well as the staff. If you have a criminal background, it may prevent you from being able to work as a Dental Assistant in some states. In others, you will only be barred if the crime was sexual in nature or violent in nature. Still yet, other states only prevent you from being hired as a Dental Assistant if you have a felony conviction in the past seven years. If you think your background check will be a factor in gaining employment as a Dental Assistant, it is very important to check into the state requirements prior to enrolling in and completing a program. It is not advised to lie on your application either as almost all dentist offices will conduct a thorough background check on all individuals they are considering offering employment to. Most Dental Assistant licenses are valid for a certain length of time. Generally three to five years. As your renewal comes due, you will be sent a questionnaire from your State Medical Board. It will ask you questions pertaining to your employment, about any convictions or pending issues that have taken place. Keep in mind that your Dental Assistant license can be revoked if the information you place on the renewal is found to be inaccurate or if you have been involved in criminal activity during the licensing period. It is very important that you understand Dental Assistant licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Therefore, if you are planning to move to another state make sure you can transfer your license to that state. You will be able to if your license is in good standing and the State Dental Board is not investigating any complaints about you. The state you are transferring your license to must have the same level of requirements or less. It the new state requirements are more than you have, then you will need to obtain the missing skills or classes in order to obtain a license. Licensing as a Dental Assistant can help you have an edge on the completion for that great job you want. It also implies to patients that you are qualified to be working in a dental office and meeting their dental needs. It can also increase your level of pay in some states where licensing is available but not required. You can obtain information about licensing exams in your area from the State Dental Board or you course instructor. The exam is generally written and procedural. Risks of Being a Dental Assistant Having a career as a dental assistant is a great career opportunity. You will have the ability to work in the dental profession and observe many types of dental procedures taking place. In addition to assisting dentists and hygienists with the procedures you will have the opportunity to get to know patients as well as help them to feel comfortable before, during, and after procedures. However, in this type of career, it is important that you are completely aware of the risks and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself. While it is very rare, some patients become upset and irate as a result of dental work. They may be afraid of the processes or not happy with the work. This can result in verbal or physical abuse taking place. To protect yourself, make sure you are aware of the proper policies and procedures of the dental office you work in and follow them completely. Generally, the police will be called to take a report. Since most dental offices are very small, your communication skills are very important. Your efforts to de-esculate a situation can make the difference of how it plays out. Most dental offices understand the importance of a good working relationship with all individuals. They work together to make the office environment fun, relaxing, a learning experience, and a place everyone looks forward to working at. Since we spend so many hours at work in the presence of co-workers, it is important to establish quality relationships. Unfortunately, in some dental offices, Dental Assistants are treated poorly. Other staff does not show them respect or include them in things that take place both in the office and get togethers outside of it. There are reports of Dental Assistants who claim they were sent to get coffee for the other staff and other such tasks rather than being able to participate in the dental procedures. Other Dental Assistants have reported verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the other staff. They have been ridiculed for having less knowledge and even kicked for handing staff the wrong instrument. It is important that you do not allow yourself to continue being the victim of such abuse as a Dental Assistant. If you are having problems with other staff, let the dentist know immediately. If the issue involves the dentist, immediately remove yourself from the dental facility. You should also report the incident to the State Dental Board for further investigation. The possibility of being infected with a communicable disease is the biggest risk Dental Assistants face. Since most communicable diseases are transmitted via saliva and blood, it is obvious why it can be such an issue. All dental offices should follow proper procedures including always wearing sterile gloves during all procedures. Dental Assistants should always wear gloves if they are in the area of a procedure. Emergencies can happen fast where you have to reach into a patient's mouth. You should always be prepared to help as well as have yourself protected. If you believe you have punctured your sterile gloves, immediately change them no matter how small of a hole you believe you have made. This will help protect you against communicable diseases. If you come into contact with saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids, immediately wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Most dental offices have patients fill out a questionnaire asking about comunicable diseases. However, since the information isn't verified, it is unknown if it accurate. Therefore, treat every patient respectfully, but always be prepared for the risk of infection from a communicable disease. Dental Assistant Relationships with other Staff Having a career as a dental assistant is a great opportunity to work with others in the dental profession. The most common staff you will work with in a dental facility are Dentists, Dental Hygienists, and the Receptionist. It is very important that you forge quality relationships with the other staff you work with. The smaller the dental facility, the more important it is as everyone will have to work well together to allow the facility to function properly. Since you will be present for the procedures conducted by Dentists and Hygienists, patients will quickly pick up on any staffing issues. I went to a dentist for years. He was great to me and my children. However, he continually was impatient with his staff, especially the Dental Assistants. We went for cleanings every six months. We loved the Dental Hygienist. However, she was often in tears over is behaviors. We also noticed that the Dental Assistant staff changed almost every time we came in. It didn't take too many years before he went out of business because patients were tired of seeing the behaviors and he couldn't find help that would work for him. Communication skills are a great asset for any profession, but as a Dental Assistant it is a must. You will be interacting with patients, staff, insurance companies, and family members of patients. It is very important you are able to make everyone feel comfortable and that you convey the message that you are approachable. Poor communication skills can result in your career as a Dental Assistant not working out for the long haul. To ensure proper communication among staff members, dental facilities need to arrange trainings. These should be informative, explaining to everyone what is expected as far as interoffice relationships. It should be clearly stated that lack of respect for co-workers will not be tolerated. Policies and procedures should also be in place for employers to resolve any conflicts with other employers. Everyone should know where they are to report and such issues that they can't work out with the other staff member or members. Many dental facilities require staff members to attend communication workshops. These are often very fun and interactive workshops, showing more effective methods of communication. They generally include information on individual communication as well as group efforts. These workshops are conducted by individuals who customize the workshop to meet the needs of your group. This makes the sitting more intimate and usable in your dental facility. To help alleviate stress and issues among co-workers, each staff member should be made aware of what other staff members are responsible for. Many inter-office struggles are the result of workers believing others are not carrying the same weight. Most employees complete tasks behind the scenes, so this assumption is based only on what is being seen on the front lines. Effective communication is essential in the role of Dental Assistant. It is imperative to your career that you understand various communication styles. It is also very important that you are aware of your own communication style. You want others to view you as enthusiastic about your job and willing to assist in anyway possible. Effective communication doesn't mean that you let other staff members take advantage of you or belittle you. It simply means being able to put forth your best efforts to work well with others. You are all committed to providing patients with quality care. This can't be accomplished if you have issues of communication standing in the way. Most issues that arise from communication is assuming you know what the other person means or what they will say. Make sure that you reflect back what is being said to you by other staff members. This way any misconceptions can be resolved up front before they escalate into major issues that affect everyone's work performance. Since we all spend so many hours at our place of employment, it is very important to make it a comfortable place to be. Dental Assistant Emergency Care The role of Dental Assistant involves being able to perform a variety of duties. It also requires being detail oriented, alert, and able to react calmly and quickly in emergency situations. A Dental Assistant observes all dental procedures, assisting both Dentists and Dental Hygienists to perform quality procedures for all patients. While most dental procedures are routine and take place without incident, emergency situations do take place. Eliminating short cuts for procedures and staying alert with the focus on the needs of the patient will help prevent emergencies from occurring. Planning and preparation can help Dental Assistants be able to resolve issues and remedy emergency situations with positive results for all involved. People have been known to stop breathing during dental procedures or have allergic reactions to local anesthetics. During such a situation, it is vital that Dental Assistants are properly trained in how to assist. It is recommended that Dental Assistants know how to perform CPR. Some dental facilities require monitoring of a patient's vital signs to help them monitor for any side effects or other issues. Another incident that can take place in a dental facility is accidentally swallowing something, causing the patient to choke. A patient can choke on dental equipment, tools, extracted teeth, or other materials. Since most procedures are done under anesthesia, the patient may not be able to control reflexes to push the object away from the throat. Dental Assistants must know how to quickly react to prevent serious injury or death from occurring. Likewise, objects including dental tools, extractions, and other materials might be dropped or ricochet, landing in the eye of a patient. Eye wash stations are generally available in dental facilities. Dental Assistants need to make sure they are familiar with how they work and where they are located in the facility. On occasion, a patient may suffer from other health issues not related to their dental procedures. These health issues may include a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. Therefore, it is important for Dental Assistants to be trained in basic medical issues as well as those that relate to dental procedures. There are other types of emergency situations that can occur in a dental facility that Dental Assistants can help with. In the event of a fire, quickly remove all patients from the building. This needs to be done keeping everyone as calm and comfortable as possible. During an emergency in the dental facility, patients should not be left alone under any circumstances. Dental Assistants and other staff members have a duty to the patient to administer quality emergency services until the proper medical response team arrives to take over. It is important for the Dental Assistant to be able to inform the medical response team of the changes the patient exhibited as well as documentation of everything that took place prior to the event. This information can help medical response teams pinpoint the issue faster and provide adequate medical care. Since medical emergencies don't often occur in dental facilities, is important for staff to have regular meetings and reminders about the proper procedures in the event an emergency does take place. Practice drills are a great way to keep the policies and procedures fresh in the mind of all staff members. It is important to post phone numbers of all emergency agencies in several locations where all staff can easily access the information. However, it is not recommended the information be posted where patients can see it. For those who are already nervous about coming in for a procedure, seeing that information is not going to easy their level of anxiety. Being prepared for such emergencies will make a difference in the outcomes. Dental Assistants need to address the issue of emergency care at the start of their employment. If no such policies and procedures are in place, encourage your employer to establish them. It only takes one incident of a medical emergency taking place for a dental facility to be sued. If they are found to be negligent it could result in charges being filed or the business having to close down. Protecting your job and the business you work for as well as providing quality procedures for all patients will ensure job security. Patient Rights in Regard to Dental Care Dental Assistants work hard to help Dentists and Dental Hygienists provide quality care to patients. They try to provide patients with the knowledge of proper dental care as well as information about the procedures they are about to undergo. Patients have rights in regards to their dental care that Dental Assistants need to be aware of and respectful of. Dental patients have the right to make an informed decision about their dental care. It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant to make sure they know the facts about the procedures, the alternative options, and any risks involved in the procedures. Dental patients have the right to receive care from qualified staff members. Most dental offices will provide the licensing and credentials of staff members upon patient request. The right to receive quality care is important to patients. Dental Assistants can do their part by taking the time to properly clean all dental tools and equipment. Standard sterilization procedures need to be followed accurately. Patients have the right to ask questions and receive informed decisions about the care they receive. Dental Assistants have the responsibility of keeping the lines of communication open. They need to be approachable by patients. A patient has the right to refuse treatment or discontinue treatment at any time. The Dental Assistant needs to be respectful of this choice. However, the Dental Assistant has the responsibility to inform the patient of the health risks involved with doing so. Those patients wanting to continue care have the right to be seen at scheduled appointments and for a detailed treatment plan to be carefully outlined, and then followed. Emergency situations do occur. Patients have the right to be seen as soon as possible. In the mean time, the Dental Assistant needs to do everything possible to reduce the pain and make the patient comfortable. Dental care can be expensive. Patients have the right to receive an itemized cost of treatment prior to accepting any dental services. All patients want to be treated with dignity and respect. The patient who comes in with poor oral care habits doesn't want the Dental Assistant to ask them rude questions about the last time they brushed their teeth. However, it is important for the Dental Assistant to express concern about the patient's oral health habits, and provide education to help the patient develop better oral care practices. Dental patients have the right to confidentiality. Dental Assistants need to keep information about procedures and those coming in for them to themselves. No one wants everyone in town to know they had two cavities or that they got their teeth whitened. Confidentially is very important to individuals in all areas, and their dental care is no different. A patient has the right to request copies of all information in their file at any time for their own use. All patients have the right to express their concern over the dental care they received. They have the right to file a complaint against the Dental Assistant or other staff with the State Dental Board. Each state has their own policies and procedures for investigating complaints. The standard procedure includes obtaining the complaint in writing, sending a copy of the complaint to the dental facility, interviewing witnesses to the event, and making an informed decision on how to handle the complaint. Dental Assistants need to be fully aware to patient rights. It is easy to get caught up in the procedures and duties of the dental profession. However, the satisfaction of the patient is the key to providing quality service and maintaining ongoing relationships with patients. Dental Assistants can do their part by providing patients with an approachable individual that they can discuss their needs, ideas, thoughts, and concerns over their dental care with. In that regard, a Dental Assistant can serve as a lesson between the patient and the other dental staff. Dental Assistants in Orthodontics Dental Assistants are becoming more and more popular in the area of orthodontics. This is due to new technology for orthodontics as well as the increase in the number of children and adults seeking orthodontic care. Dental Assistants normally complete a variety of duties including sterilizing dental tools and assisting both Dentists and Hygienist with procedures. This generally entails sitting in on such procedures, handing the staff the necessary tools and equipment as the procedure it taking place. Dental Assistants may also find themselves assisting with lab work. The role of Dental Assistant in the area of Orthodontics is different. They will generally still be responsible for sterilizing all dental tools. However, they will have more hands on work inside the mouth of the patient. These tasks include fixing loose brackets, changing rubber bands, and tightening wires. Many Dental Assistants love working in orthodontics because of the hands on work they get to do with the patient. They also enjoy getting to see the patient every few weeks from the beginning of the process until the end. Generally individuals wear braces for two years or longer. Being a Dental Assistant in an orthodontic setting is not something that is commonly taught in a Dental Assistant program. It is a specific area of specialization, and most Dental Assistant programs are designed to give you an understanding of the basic elements of dentistry only. Most training for Dental Assistants in the area of orthodontics takes place on the job. Generally, by having another Dental Assistant walk you through the process, then watching you perform it on actual patients. This can be intimidating for some Dental Assistants as they are used to learning by observing in the dental field rather than taking on the task at hand. Other Dental Assistants thrive in this type of learning environment, enabling them to really excel in the orthodontic field. With the use of Dental Assistants, many orthodontic offices are meeting the demand for treatment in a very unique way. Dental Assistants are set up to specialize in a particular area of the orthodontic process. Many patients are scheduled for the same appointment time, and then dispersed to various dental assistants depending on their needs. For example, one such dental facility has all patients sign in to see the Orthodontist first. He quickly reviews their progress, documents the chart, and puts the chart into a file on the wall. Dental Assistants come here to pull the charts of those in their slot on the wall. There are Dental Assistants to take X-Rays and to make adjustments. These adjustments include adjusting wires and changing rubber bands. Other Dental Assistants perform repairs including changing brackets and removing excess cement on the teeth. There are also Dental Assistants to remove the braces and others to take the molds for retainers. Once the patient has seen the necessary Dental Assistant based on the needs that should be addressed during that visit, the patient is taken back to the area where they first signed in. They again see the dentist who reviews the work completed by the Dental Assistant. The Dentist will record necessary notes on the chart including when the patient should be seen again. The patient then takes their chart to the reception area, schedules an appointment, and they are on their way. This method has proven to be fast and effective. It is well organized, like worker ants doing their part to make it all flow well. The advantage to this type of system is that more patients can be seen on a daily basis. Therefore, the cost of treatment is often reduced. However, patients will find themselves seen by numerous Dental Assistants over the course of their treatment. Many Dental Assistants enjoy working in the area of orthodontics. They like the hands on interaction with the patients as well as providing quality care to those in need of orthodontic procedures. Dental Assistants Provide Care to Low Income Families Dental Assistants take pride in providing quality care to patients. They assist Dentists with procedures and Dental Hygienists with assistance during preventative cleanings. However, many Dental Assistants understand there is a population of individuals who do not receive the dental care they should because they have no insurance and they can't afford to pay for it out of pocket. The result of not obtaining proper dental care is ongoing health and dental issues that spiral out of control. Many low income families are not receiving dental care. Often, dental programs are available through a variety of programs including Child Development Services, Migrant Services, and Head Start. All of these programs are conducted throughout the United States. These programs provide schooling for children and parenting skills for parents. The programs often include programs of budgeting, meal planning, family activities, and dental care. These programs are Federally funded. In these programs, children and their families receive dental care for free. This requires qualified Dental Assistants to assist Dentists and Dental Hygienists in their work of providing procedures and dental cleanings to patients in these programs. Since their dental care is limited, it is very important for them to become educated about oral hygiene. Education becomes a key for them to work hard to maintain quality dental hygiene on their own as much as they can. Dental Assistants often conduct training workshops for these types of programs, stressing the importance oral hygiene. The programs include information on brushing twice a day, the proper way to brush, the importance of flossing, and the proper way to floss. Family members are generally given handouts as well as toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and pills that will show the plaque you missed on your teeth by turning the areas a bright color. These educational workshops are very helpful to the families involved in these programs. For children and adults who have severe dental needs, this many be the only way they will ever be able to have those needs addressed. Dental Assistants who work with low income families often earn less than Dental Assistants in other dental fields of employment. However, they find a strong satisfaction in helping families obtain dental care. To them, it is more rewarding than any increase in pay. The lack of programs to help with those who can't afford adequate dental care is a huge concern for Dental Assistants all across the Nation. It is an issue that needs to be addressed locally, statewide, and on a Federal level. Many Dental professionals agree to assist with education and providing services to low income populations because they understand the dire need of such care. While Medicare and Medicaid programs under Federal guidelines offer some relief for families, many don't qualify for the programs, yet still don't earn enough money to pay for the care on their own. In addition, most dental facilities don't accept the Federal programs or they only accept a limited number of participants at a time. The Surgeon General has only yet begun to conduct studies on the effects of low income families not receiving the dental care they need. However, they do agree that the issue needs to be addressed. They have implemented some strategies to improve the situation. They would like to see the expansion of mobile dental clinics, public dental clinics, and school based dental clinics. They would also like to see schools and other educational programs focusing more on oral hygiene. Possibility adding toothbrushes and areas to each classroom for students to use after breakfast and lunch on a daily basis. The Surgeon General is also looking into developing programs for dental staff, including Dental Assistants to receive assistance with tuition if they agree to work in low income dental facilities for a specified period of time. It is their hope that the staff will choose to remain their after that time period has ended because they see how beneficial their services are to the patients they are serving. Become a Dental Assistant to Explore the World of Dentistry A career as a Dental Assistant will offer you insight and first hand experience in the areas of Dentistry. Dental Assistants work very closely with both dentists and hygienists to offer quality care to all patients. The duties you will perform as a Dental Assistant will vary depending on the dental office you work for. It will also depend on if the dentist office is general dentistry or a specialized area of care. Dental Assistants need to be detail oriented as well as patient and alert. They may have to sit for hours while a procedure is being completed or jump into the situation in an instant if an emergency occurs while the procedure is being conducted. Typical tasks Dental Assistants need to perform include sterilizing instruments and preparing instrument trays for procedures. They also work closely with patients, taking dental and health histories. Depending on the procedures, vital signs of patients may be monitored by a Dental Assistant. They also help document patient records, take X-Rays, and give patients information on follow up care. In some offices they also make impressions of teeth to assist with making casts for caps, crowns, and dentures. Dental Assistants often work right along side the dentist and hygienist. Starting with making patients feel comfortable and prepping them for procedures. Assistants hand the dentist and hygienist instruments and materials, allowing them to remain focused on the patient throughout the procedure. It is the job of the Dental Assistant to make sure the work station has all the necessary equipment and tools to complete each procedure to prevent delays and feelings of anxiety in patients. In a crunch, Dental Assistants may be asked to assist with office duties including answering the phone, reminding patients of appointments, scheduling appointments, answering billing questions, and submitting insurance claims. It really depends on how your employer has the dental office operating. Dental Assistants generally work with dentists and hygienists in a clean, friendly environment that is well lit. Since the work chair side to the dentist and hygienist, Dental Assistants learn many avenues of proper dental procedures. Many just might be able to do them as well as any dentist or hygienist, however, they are not allowed to because they are not certified. Knowing this, many Dental Assistants choose to further their education in the medical field. They may decide to pursue being a Dental Hygienist or a Dentist. This will allow them to perform many of the procedures they have seen performed over and over again. Watching this process with make their educational endeavor much easier as they will already have seen so many aspects of the dental field in action. Another reason Dental Assistants choose to further their career is the difference in pay. Generally, Dental Hygienists earn 80% more than a Dental Assistant. Over time, that amount of money definitely adds up to quite a large difference. Dentists of course make much more money that the Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist combined. A career as a Dental Assistant allows you the unique and rewarding opportunity to participate in the dental field on many levels. You will not only have many responsibilities, you will first hand be up close to assist Dental Hygienists and Dentists perform the many different procedures that take place in a dental setting. This ongoing training is the perfect learning tool to enable you to further your education with a solid foundation in the dental field to build on. Complaints Against Dental Assistants Most Dental Assistants work hard to ensure the best quality treatment available to all patients. However, there are those who don't live up to the expectations of the patient. The patient has the right to address this issue with the dental facility. If they do not feel their complaint has been properly handled, they can then file a complaint with the State Dental Board. State Dental Boards are responsible for regulating dental practices. They work hard to protect the public against improper behaviors by Dental Assistants, Dental Hygienists, and Dentists. They are to thoroughly investigate all complaints filed that involve competentcy. State Dental Boards do not handle complaints such as fee disputes, personality conflicts, rude behaviors, or difficulty with scheduling appointments in a timely manner. Such issues are to be referred to the Better Business Bureau. It is important to file a complaint with the State Dental Board as soon as possible to allow then to be of the most help. Most states allow you to file your complaint online, over the phone, or you can request a form be sent to you in the mail. Some states will only accept a complaint in writing. Dental Assistants need to be aware of the process that patients can go through if they have a complaint. Dental Assistants need to be cooperative during the investigation. If a Dental Assistant feels a patient may file a complaint, it is important to write down as much information as possible. This information needs to include the patient's name, date, time, and what took place. Also document any verbal interactions and who all was present to observe the incident. This information will be very useful to you and to the State Dental Board. The Dental Board works hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. However, it will not rush the efforts to investigate it properly. Some complaints are resolved in a matter of days while others linger for years. Once a complaint has been filed, a copy of it is sent to the dental facility for a response. Generally, the dental facility is given a specific time frame to have their response back to the State Dental Board. Once the response is received and reviewed, the Dental Board will compare the information to that on the complaint. From there, a course of action will be mapped out. This generally involved conducting interviews of all parties present during the incident. A panel is set up to investigate if any dental laws were violated. If there appears to be a violation, a hearing will be scheduled. The Dental Assistant will be notified as well as required to show up for the hearing. If the Dental Assistant is found to be in violation of dental laws, the Dental Board will issue a reprimand. This will depend on the state guidelines as well as the violation. Reprimands may include a letter of apology, suspension, probation, or even revocation of the Dental Assistant's license. The Dental Board is not allowed to require monetary compensation. If the person filing the complaint want to be compensated in that manner, they will need to file a civil suit with their local judicial system. Dental Assistants who find themselves in the middle of a complaint issue with the Dental Board are likely to experience anxiety and fear. Many dental facilities will provide the individual with counseling as well as legal consultation. In most cases, it will depend on the issue the Dental Board is investigating. If the dental facility backs the Dental Assistant they will do all they can. However, if they feel the Dental Assistant is in violation of dental regulations they may terminate the individual, leaving them to pay for their own defense. It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant to follow all policies and procedures correctly. If you have any doubt, take the time to have everything explained to you. Losing a complaint under the Dental Board can cost you your job, as well as your career. If you lose your license, you may find it difficult to obtain another job in the profession as a Dental Assistant. Making sure you follow policies and procedures will ensure that you have a good chance of winning such complaints upon a complete review and investigation by the Dental Board.
Support for Dental Assistants Dental Assistants can find themselves easily overwhelmed with the level of responsibility they have and the many duties of their job. Since they work hard to meet all of these requirements, it is no wonder they can find themselves stressed out and needing someone to talk to. It is always easier to talk to those who know exactly what you are talking about. The medical and dental professions are known for taking enthusiastic qualified individuals and squeezing the very life out of them will took much be asked of them on a daily basis. Dental Assistant support groups are not meant to be an arena to negativity to breed and escalate. It is to provide Dental Assistants with social interactions with others in the field who are experiencing the same types of things in their employment endeavors as well. Too often, individuals in the dental field are their own worst enemy. They demand too much of themselves. Being part of a Dental Assistant support group will help you set realistic goals and expectations for yourself. Dental Assistant support groups can be formed of your co-workers if you work in a fairly large dental facility. If not, consider advertising for Dental Assistants from other facilities to get together and form a group. This can offer valuable insight as to how other organizations deal with issues that you are experiencing in your role as a Dental Assistant. Most dental facilities will support your endeavors as they understand the restraints of the Dental Assistant field. You may also want to open the group up to those interested in pursing a career as a Dental Assistant, those in a Dental Assistant program, and those who have retired from a career as a Dental Assistant. Each can offer unique perspectives on the dental field of being a Dental Assistant. Often, each dental facility can take a turn hosting the meeting. Another option is to get a Church or library to allow you to meet in their facility free of charge. You can host meetings once a week, every other week, or monthly depending on how in depth you want your support group to be. Another great option is to join a support group online. You can stay anonymous, as well as interact from the comfort of your home. Most online support groups for Dental Assistants are free of charge and hosted by dental organizations. They offer tips, advice, online magazines, chat rooms, and message boards. All available at your fingertips with the touch of a few simple keys. These are an excellent source of support for those not wanting to put effort and time into organizing a Dental Assistant support group. A career as a Dental Assistant can proof to be challenging. To avoid burnout and the effects of stress, consider joining a Dental Assistant support group. It can be a wonderful opportunity to meet new people in the field, gain information, share your experiences, and just get some needed support from those who know best what your experiences are on a daily basis in your role as a Dental Assistant. Support groups are known to offer social interactions, stress relief, and friendships. Having a support group for Dental Assistants is no different. To make sure your support group is effective, set some ground rules. The support group is to stay positive. It is available to discuss problems, but not just as a complaint mechanism. The goal needs to be to offer support and solutions to the issues Dental Assistants are experiencing. You will also want to keep your meetings set on a regular day and time. An agenda will also prove to be useful as is a newsletter. Just make sure to get plenty of help with organizing the details or the support group can overwhelm you. Ironically, that will result in your career as a Dental Assistant proving to be even more stressful for you! Use your Dental Assistant Skills to Become a Dentist or Hygienist You can complete your Dental Assistant training in about 12 to 24 months. This will provide you with the necessary skills to work in a dental facility. If you are interested in becoming a Dentist or Dental Hygienist, then it is a good idea to train as a Dental Assistant first. This will provide you with the opportunity to explore the dental field and know exactly what you are getting involved in before spending four or more years on an education in a field you are not going to enjoy. Dental assistants help with a variety of needs in dental offices. They sterilize tools and get items ready for procedures for both Dentists and Hygienists. They assist during the actual procedures, handing necessary tool and equipment. In some states, they are even allowed to administer local anesthetics. Dental Assistants have a front row seat for all the dental procedures as they take place. Careful observation of techniques will be a great learning experience for them. While Dental Assistants aren't allowed to perform the procedures they are watching due to licensing issues, they definitely come to learn the process for each procedure. Once a Dental Assistant decides to continue their education and pursue a career as a Dentist or Hygienist, they knowledge they gained in the dental office will be very valuable. Since the Dental Assistant has watched procedures take place many times, they are more likely to complete the procedures accurately themselves during the learning process of their continued dental education program. Many Dentists want to keep the qualified staff they have. They are often willing to work your schedule around your classes. Some in larger dental offices might offer to assist you with the cost of attending the classes or reimburse you for your education upon completion if you agree to work for them. Working as a Dental Assistant prior to becoming a Hygienist or Dentist gives you an edge on the competition. You will have work experience and education to market versus only education. Many employers want both when they hire dental Hygienists and Dentists. You will also have very sharp skills in the areas of communication and understanding fears patients may have when they enter the dentist office. A certificate as a Dental Assistant can be a mere stepping stone for some who have greater ambitions in the dental field. However, the experience is one you will find educational and full of opportunity. You will also be more likely to treat new Dental Assistants with compassion and take them under your wing as they enter the dental field in the future. All fields of dentistry continue to grow because people are taking better care of their teeth then ever before. New technology has lead to procedures that are not as painful as in the past, encouraging patients to come in for dental care. People are also living longer, so their teeth need to last longer. If you are a Dental Assistant with an interest in pursuing a career as a Dentist or Hygienist, look into various programs in your area. Some with give you credit for the work you are doing at your position in the dental office. It will depend on the program and what types of tasks you are performing. However, many people find out they have less courses to take, saving them both time and money if they look into this prior to enrolling in a dental program. Dental Assistant Program Acceptance Dental Assistant is one of the fastest growing professions. It is anticipated to be one of the top occupations by 2012. Almost all Dental Assistant programs require applicants to successfully pass a background check prior to acceptance. In addition, drug testing is becoming a widely common practice as well. Most states require students to be tested for Hepatitis B prior to acceptance as well. Many programs want to look at your work history, education level, and GPA. All of these factors combined will determine if you are accepted into a Dental Assistant Program. You will get a letter informing you of the decision. If you are not accepted into the Dental Assistant Program, you have the right to inquire as to the information that decision was based on. The reason for background checks for Dental Assistants is because of the number of people they come into contact with. Since they serve the public, their background becomes an area of concern. Safety is a top priority in the dental field. Precautions are taken protect patients as well as other staff. The background process is very similar in all states. You will be required to provide your personal information and fingerprints. All information that comes back will be reported to the program director. Each state has different levels of acceptable background checks for the Dental Assistant Program. If you believe your background might prevent you from being accepted into a Dental Assistant Program, ask the instructor or the State Dental Board what the regulations are for your particular state. In some states, they will only look at background information that is less than seven years old. Others will only ban you from the Dental Assistant program if you have been convicted of a crime that involved violence or was of a sexual nature. Other states are very strict. If you have any felony convicts at all, you will not be accepted to the Dental Assistant program. They also will look at misdemeanors including harassment and domestic violence. Background checks are an ongoing issue with Dental Assistants. You can complete the training program and your license. Your license will be valid for three to five years depending on the state you live in. Upon renewal, another background check will be completed. You can lose your license and your career if you have had any criminal activity during your licensing period. Again, it depends on the regulations for your state. Since state regulations vary, keep that in mind when considering transferring your Dental Assistant license to another state. Drug testing regulations have come into play to provide safety for patients and other staff. Drug convictions will generally result in you not being admitted to the Dental Assistant program. It is believed the drugs will impair your ability to perform your job duties in the manner they must be done in. Also, since drugs are available on site of dental facilities, it is possible you will take them. Hepatitis B is a concern in the dental profession. All individuals wanting to enroll in the Dental Assistant program will be required to be tested. They test requires a quick skin prick on the top of your hand. The results are generally available within a couple of days. Depending on the Dental Assistant program you are trying to get into, they will require a background check, drug test, and Hepatitis B test. If there is a large demand to enroll in the course your work history, education, and GPA may also be taken into consideration if more people what to enroll than there are slots available. Being a Dental Assistant is an opportunity to provide assistance to people as well as participate in the practices of the dental field. It also requires accepting responsibly for your actions. Dental Assistants have to be very responsible. It is believed you decisions in your personal life often reflect the choices you will make in your personal life. Dental Assistant Pay Becoming a Dental Assistant not only prepares you for a wonderful career working in the dental field, is also pays very well. Since this area of employment is anticipated to be one of the most in demand over the next six years, your chances of securing a great job with great pay and benefits is very likely. The Median hourly rate of pay for Dental Assistants is $13.62. This is well above the minimum wage established in most states. In addition to a great hourly wage, many Dental Assistants will receive bonuses if the dental office is doing well, health insurance, and discounted dental procedures. Almost all Dental Assistants receive paid vacation days, sick days, and paid Holidays. However, earning such a high hourly wage comes with a great level of responsibility. Dental Assistants perform duties relating to patient care, office sanitation, lab duties, and assisting the dentist and hygienist with a variety of procedures. Dental Assistants need to be alert, pay attention to detail, and have effective communication skills. They must also be able to provide patients with comfort measures both before and after procedures are completed. Dental Assistants are easily confused with Dental Hygienists. Compared to hygienists, who have a median rate of pay of $23.65 per hour, a Dental Assistant is not making a very good hourly wage. However, they are very different professions. A Dental Assistant does just that, assists the dentist and hygienist with providing the best quality care for all patients. A hygienist takes care of cleaning teeth and generally has a steady stream of patients who come in every six months for routine cleaning procedures. The amount of pay a Dental Assistant earns depends on many factors. The cost of living in your area will be the greatest influence. The amount of revenue the dental office you work for generates will also be a deciding factor. New dentists might have to pay less than established dentists will clientele because they don't have the traffic coming into the office. However, it is very possible your pay will increase as more patients are drawn to that dental office. Your level of experience will also be a consideration. You may have to accept a position that pays less than average to get your foot in the door and gain some hands on experience. However, with the demand for Dental Assistants, you should have no problem securing employment. Many dental offices want to keep quality Dental Assistants. They may offer to start you at a lower entry level pay, with the understanding that your performance will be reviewed in 90 days or other time frame. Based on your performance, you pay will be adjusted at that time. It is important to understand that certified and uncertified Dental Assistants complete the same types of tasks. However, those who are certified earn several dollars more per hour than those who aren't certified. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to take the certification exam early on in your career as a Dental Assistant. Dental Assistants working with Drug Users Dental Assistants are used to working with patients who are suffering from poor dental hygiene. Statistics show more than 10.5 million people in the United States are affected by drug and alcohol use. Substance abuse is easily recognizable by Dental Assistants. Many parents are left completely dumbfounded when the Dental Assistant has to inform them that their child appears to have a drug dependency and it is affecting their oral health. Types of drug abuse Dental Assistants encounter include sedatives, barbiturates, and narcotics. The effects of drug use in relation to oral health care include missing dental appointments, fear, anxiety, cravings for sweets, the risk of infection from Hepatitis B and HIV, oral neglect, periodontal disease, gingivitis, and painful gums. It is easy to see from this list how taking drugs can lead to ongoing oral health issues. If the drug use continues tooth lose and inflamed gum areas may increase. Dental Assistants are often consulted when individuals call the dental office or come in complaining of severe tooth pain. This can be a ploy on the patient's behalf to obtain drugs from the dental facility, either in the office or in the form of a prescription. Dental Assistants need to watch for such scenarios and listen to their gut reaction in such cases. Often, these individuals will come in at closing time, get a prescription and an appointment to return the next morning. They get the prescription filled, but never show up for the appointment. Since drug use is so common, Dental Assistants and other dental staff should be properly trained in the areas of drug use, drug interactions, and promoting drug treatment. If your employer does not offer such training, it is important that you bring it to their attention. In the mean time, it is your responsibility to train yourself by educating yourself in these areas. You can do so with textbooks or online materials. Dental Assistants can provide patients with education, early intervention, and motivation to seek treatment for drug use. Often Dental Assistants can help the patient find a treatment program to look into. It is important for the Dental Assistant to treat the patient with respect, but fully disclose the risks involved in continued drug use as well as they affects to their dental health. This is where those valuable communication skills come in to play. Dental Assistants need to be very careful when providing dental care to drug users. Since the types of drugs they use generally aren't disclosed, it is unknown what types of behaviors they will display. They may become violent or experience a chemical reaction when treated with a local anesthetic. Treating patients who use drugs also raises the risk of being exposed to communicable diseases. All precautions need to be taken to protect yourself. Most dental facilities have policies and procedures in place for dealing with individuals who come in for appointments under the influence of drugs and other substances. However, for ongoing drug users, you might not even know they have been using anything prior to treating them. As a Dental Assistant, if you suspect a patient has been using drugs, approach the situation confidentially and carefully. Your main goal is to make sure other patients and staff members are not at risk of being harmed. You have the right as a Dental Assistant to refuse treatment to anyone for any reason. While most Dental Assistants don't exercise this right often, there is not reason to put yourself or others at risk. Drug use can adversely affect an individual's oral health. Dental Assistants can offer then assistance with getting treatment for drug use. They can also educate the patient on the effects of drug use. However, this is a gray area where Dental Assistants need to procedure based on the observations of the patient and the policies and procedures in place for the dental facility they work for. Avoid Burnout as a Dental Assistant Having a career as a Dental Assistant can be very rewarding. It can also be stressful and overwhelming at times. Working with people can get the best of us from time to time. Being a Dental Assistant requires ongoing dedication and energy. If you find yourself becoming physically and emotionally drained due to your work responsibilities as a Dental Assistant, you may be on your way to experiencing a burnout. Often, stress and burnout are confused. Stress is also the result of the work environment. However, it is the result of periodic issues and complications in the work place. It might be having a bad day now and then. Burnout is a constant, ongoing feeling of not being adequate in your job on a daily basis. You may not longer take pride or interest in your position as a Dental Assistant. Burnout results in feelings of hopelessness and resentment. If left untreated, it can escalate to depression. Dental Assistants who experience burnout often feel unappreciated, overworked, feel they have too much to accomplish in limited time, and begin to resent their level of responsibility. Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself is also a factor in burnout. Burnout generally runs in stages. You go from feeling excited about your job as a Dental Assistant to forcing yourself to go to work each morning. Most people aren't even sure what is wrong at this point. However, you will begin to experience exhaustion that leads to irritability. Burnout often has symptoms including headaches, changes in appetite, and high blood pressure. During phases of burnout, your relationships both outside of work and at work are going to suffer. If you feel you may be suffering from burnout, talk with your supervisor. You can find support in your co-workers. You might consider attending a few counseling sessions to help you develop an action plan. To avoid and eliminate burnout in the Dental Assistant field, you must meet your physical and emotional needs. Too often we spread ourselves too thin. We focus on the needs of out patients, our employer, and our family. While this is great, it is important to remember your own needs. Eventually not taking care of them will result in your inability to care for the needs of anyone else. Meet your physical needs by having regular checkups, getting enough sleep, and eating right. Exercise is a very important part of feeling good physically. To keep yourself feeling good mentally, use your coping skills. Know what triggers your negative feelings and keep them in check. Keep realistic goals and demands on your body and your time. Don't beat yourself up if you didn't accomplish everything you set out to do that day. Instead, focus on what you did accomplish. Learn to manage your time. It is OK to say know if you already feel over extended. Focusing on your social needs is also important. Nurture your relationships with your spouse, children, and close friends. Stay involved in Church and community organizations that are of interest to you. If you are unhappy with your job as a Dental Assistant, talk to your employer about help to remedy the situation. Improving your communication skills with others will also improve your over all health. Dental Assistants generally enjoy their career choice and put forth their best effort everyday. However, burnout is very common in the dental field. Knowing what causes burnout, they signs and symptoms, and effective ways to manage it will make you be able to focus on your job again. Improving your physical, mental, and social health will soon having you going to work with enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge in the dental field soon. If your feelings don't change, you will want to discuss the situation further. It may be depression that needs to be treated instead of burnout. Realistically, some Dental Assistants realize at this time they need a career change. Areas of Employment for Dental Assistants A career as a Dental Assistant will open many doors of opportunity. Dental Assistants will be among the highest growing occupations from now until 2012. This is because people are starting to take a better interest in their oral health. Technological advances have led many individuals to the dentist office for cosmetic dental procedures rather than just cleanings and major dental work. Also, people are living longer, so their teeth need more care to stay healthy throughout their life. The most common place of employment to find Dental Assistants is in the dental office. Here they provide a variety of services. They often help to comfort scared patients prior to procedures as well as give them follow up care at the end of the appointment. Dental Assistants clean the tools used as well as make sure each work unit has the necessary tools and equipment ready for the next patient's procedures. Dental Assistants in the dental office work very closely with Dentists and Hygienists. They often sit in on all procedures, handing staff the necessary tools. Dentist offices are generally small so Dental Assistants often help with lab work. This includes making molds of teeth for caps, bridges, and other dental work. They may also be required to assist with the taking of X-rays. A common place for Dental Assistants to be employed is in prisons. With more and more prisons being built all over the Nation, Dental Assistants are in great demand for Federal, State, and privately owned prisons. Working as a dental assistant in a prison setting requires more caution that in a regular dental office. All Nursing Assistants need to be aware of the risk of communicable diseases that are transmitted via saliva and blood. However, the rate of these diseases, especially HIV, is much higher with a prison population than the general public. Also, some inmates might try to attack by biting. Nursing Assistants in a prison setting need to be alert, and never let down their guard. Inmates often look for any opportunity to escape or obtain weapons. They can use a dental tool as a weapon against you, other staff, or other inmates. It is very important that you keep very close track of all dental tools in a prison setting. Never leave a tool in the reach of an inmate for even a moment. If you discover a tool is missing, immediately notify your supervisor and follow the procedures outlined in the prison policy. For those Dental Assistants wanting to help the lower income populations, securing employment in a Child Development Center, Head Start, or Migrant program is an excellent way of giving back to the community. Often, these populations can't afford dental care and would go without it if the services weren't offered as part of a government program. Employment in these types of agencies as a Dental Assistant often pays less than other employment opportunities in the field. However, many Dental Assistants make the choice to help those in need rather than earn more money. There are many opportunities to work as a Dental Assistant for agencies who serve the disabled. Often, Dental Assistants are afraid to work with such a population. However, once you feel comfortable with disabled people and their disabilities, you will be able to provide proper care to those who are in need, regardless of their mental capacity or physical appearance. A career as a Dental Assistant offers you many areas of employment including dental offices, prisons, low income programs, and for facilities who serve the disabled. The ability to choose the type of environment you want to use your Dental Assistant skills in makes the field even more inviting. If you are not sure if a particular type of agency is a good fit for you, talk to them. Ask if you can shadow another Dental Assistant who works there for a few days. This should give you plenty of exposure to the activities that take place in that agency. Dental Assistant Career Colleges Now what you have decided to start looking into a career as a dental assistant you will want to consider your options for obtaining the education you need to go into your newly chosen field. There are many options to consider when deciding to go into dental assisting as a career choice. Many city and state level colleges will offer programs to help you start as a dental assistant however one of the more popular methods for obtaining a dental assistant certification is through a vocational or career training school. Some of the more popular dental training schools are Apollo College which can be found at www.ApolloCollege.edu, Concorde career colleges which can be found at www.Concorde.edu, and also another very popular school is Bryman college at www.Go2BrymanCollege.com While you can expect to make good money as a dental assistant, some of the schooling to get you started will be an expense that you need to seriously consider and plan for. During the research that we did when writing this article we found that on average dental assistant school vocational colleges ranged between $2500 and $6,000 to give you the certification that you need to get started right away. A few schools have all expenses included however others do have material fees of up to $2500 which will want to be considered when making your choice an educational institution. A few schools such as American career colleges www.americancareer.info offer not only dental assistant educations but medical assistant, pharmaceutical, x-ray, and nursing educations all under one roof. One of these type schools might be a great choice for you if you're not 100% sure that a career as a dental assistant is your final destination. By going to a college or career center that offers multiple medical field positions you will be putting yourself in a great position to see exactly what all of your options are when considering a career in the health industry. A school such as this also would be a great place to continue your education after receiving your certification a dental assistant, to possibly move up to a dental hygiene position or even possibly continue your education in the future to become a dentist or possibly even an orthodontists. Starting now and an industry that is growing as rapidly as the health care industry is in today's world is a great way to insure you will have the skills necessary to maintain an excellent career in the health field. With the skills you are about to learn as a dental assistant you'll find jobs are not hard to find if you are skilled and professional at your newfound craft. There's a great sense of self-satisfaction to be had in knowing that you're doing something that helps other people and improves the quality of life for many. One area to consider if you like children is to specialize in dental practices that cater specifically to children. Specialized practices like this are a great way to carve yourself into a niche area of the market that is always guaranteed to be highly profitable and busy. Working with children can be one of the most rewarding parts of a dental career and I highly recommend it as a specialty area for anyone considering a career in dentistry that also has a fondness of children. So whether you're deciding to go into dental assistant career college as just a stepping stone for a career as a dentist for orthodontist, or if working as a dental assistant is to be your final destination I want to say congratulations on your choice to look into the dental assistant field and may have much success in your endeavors. The Risk of Communicable Disease for a Dental Assistant Dental Assistants need to make sure they fully understand the risk of communicable diseases. A communicable disease is one that is transmitted by saliva, blood, and other bodily fluids. Dental Assistants are at a very high risk because their hands come into contact with patient's mouths all day long. This exposes them to saliva and often blood. While patients are asked to disclose information about communicable diseases including HIV, many choose not to. Some communicable diseases such as herpes form sores in the mouth and Dental Assistants need to be able to identify them. A Dental Assistant should assume every patient is contagious and take all precautions against infection. Dental Assistants should always were gloves while working with patients. Even if they are only observing the procedure. This is because you never know what a normal procedure will turn into a crisis. The Dental Assistant will have to be able to jump in and assist at a moments notice. There is no time to stop to put on gloves, and it is not accepted in the dental field to perform any type of procedure without them. If you feel that you have poked a hole in a glove, immediately throw it away and replace it. Do not take any chances. Communicable diseases can make you ill as the least or result in death at the other extreme. Since open sores are the most common way for communicable diseases to enter your body, make sure any such sore is completely covered with a bandage, band aid, or other covering that won't come off with your gloves. Keep the sores covered until they have healed completely. Another valuable way to prevent communicable diseases is to follow all safety procedures as outlined by the employer. If you are unclear, ask. Never take shortcuts, especially in the areas of sterilizing tools and the proper use of tools. This can lead to serious repercussions if other patients become infected with communicable diseases from dirty tools. If you find that you have come into direct contact with saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids that could potentially lead to a communicable disease, wash the area immediately with soap and water. Many communicable diseases including the flu and the common cold can't survive soap and water. You will also need to report the incident to your direct supervisor. All dental facilities have policies and procedures in place for dealing with contact of saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids. It is important that you completely understand these policies and procedures from the first day of employment. Make sure you follow them completely if you do experience such contact. Most dental facilities will have the procedures written and in an easily accessible location for quick reference. Working as a Dental Assistant is a fun and rewarding career choice. You will have the opportunity to work with many people and to learn more about the dental field. You will be required to perform a variety of duties as well as sit in on several types of dental procedures. It is important to remember that your safety is very important. Make sure you are aware of the risk of communicable diseases and follow all procedures for prevention as well as reporting if such contact does take place during your employment as a Dental Assistant. The Demand for Dental Assistants Dental Assistants are essential to the field of dentistry. They work hard to make sure all the dental tools are cleaned properly, patients feel comfortable, and they assist Dentists and Hygienists with dental procedures. In addition, they help with lab work and are trained in medical emergency procedures. Combined, these duties require individuals who are energized and ready to help others. Dental assistants much be effective communicators and fast learners. The demand for dental assistants continues to grow. Many people are taking more of an interest in their oral hygiene now than ever before. Since people are living longer, their teeth are requiring more preventative care as well as dental procedures. Dental technology has also made procedures less painful. As a result more people are willing to go in for dental services. Another area is the market for cosmetic dentistry. People are going to dental facilities to get their teeth whitened and to improve the shape of their teeth. There are over 280,000 Dental Assistants currently employed Nationwide. Most of these Dental Assistants are working in dental offices. A small portion work in government agencies, prisons facilities, and physician offices. Many Dental Assistants are working in more than one dental office due to the demand for more Dental Assistants. The potential for this occupation is better than most other medical fields. It is anticipated that it will be one of the top contenders in growth through 2012. There are many job opportunities for Dental Assistants in the market already. This means almost all Dental Assistants who complete a training program will secure employment immediately. This job market is Nationwide, so relocation for employment is a great possibility for those who are interested. In some instances, the employer will assist you with relocation costs. Many individuals choose to enter the field of Dental Assistant because of the job market outlook and the rate of pay. On average, Dental Assistants earn $13.62 per hour as a new employee without any job experience. The highest noted starting rate Nationwide is in New York at $19.97 per hour. Considering the minimum wage in most states, the starting pay for Dental Assistants is at least double. That is a great incentive to pursue a career as a Dental Assistant. Pursuing a career as a Dental Assistant can be a perfect career move. It will provide you with the opportunity to work with people, allow you to explore the dental profession, you will have not trouble securing employment, and the pay is great. You will also have standard working hours with paid Holidays. Most dental assistants receive discounted or free dental care for themselves and their families. Keeping all this in perspective, the demand for Dental Assistants is a great motivation to take a look into the career options. To find out more about Dental Assistant programs in your area, contact you State Dental Board or your local colleges. You can also find great information on such programs via the internet. It is very important that you make sure any program you are considering is accredited in your state. Most programs can be completed in 12 to 24 months. Tuition assistance and scholarship programs are available. Most Human Services programs will assist with the cost of programs that can be completed within 2 years and that there is a job market for. Certified Dental Assistant Requirements Completing a Dental Assistant program can be the opportunity to explore a wonderful career in the field of dentistry. While most states don't require licensing, obtaining your certification as a Dental Assistant will give you and edge over the competition. This will allow you to have a wide selection of employment opportunities to choose from. Most Dental Assistants with a certificate find that they are paid more for their work than those Dental Assistants who have not obtained licensing. The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. set the standards for the Certified Dental Assistant, known as CDA. The CDA exam is composed of three parts. The General Chairside is a written test composed of 120 multiple choice questions. The questions are based on basic Dental Assistant fundamentals. The Infection Control segment is also a written portion. It is composed of 100 multiple choice questions relating to information on various diseases, the risks, and prevention methods. The last portion of the exam is the Health and Safety portion. This is a 100 question multiple choice section that is basically common sense related. Some Nursing Assistants choose to take the Certified Dental Assistant portion as well. This is a 210 question multiple choice section. To prepare for the CDA, review your text book and notes from your Dental Assistant program. It is a good idea to purchase a CDA study guide. You can form a study group with other students who will be taking the CDA exam. The internet also has many free practice tests available. The exam is given in either a written form or computerized form. Nursing Assistant can choose the method they are most comfortable with. To ensure you do the best possible on the CDA test, consider scheduling it immediately after you have completed your Dental Assistant Program. This is a great time to do it because all of the information is still fresh in your mind. You are also still in learning mode, so you should not suffer too much from test anxiety. Those who test right after completing their Dental Assistant program score better on the test. The longer you wait, they lower your score is likely to be. It is also less likely you will take the test once you have secured employment as a Dental Assistant. In some states, Dental Assistants who have obtained the certification can perform various dental procedures. This definitely makes you a greater asset to the dental facility you work for if your state offers this statute. This will also encourage employers in these states to hire you over other Dental Assistants who are not certified. You will be worth more to the employer, so you will likely be offered more pay and better benefits. For Dental Assistants, the decision to take the CDA is theirs to make. Since licensing is not a requirement, then many choose not to go through the test of taking another exam. However, there is nothing to lose because if you don't pass the test you are still qualified to be a Dental Assistant upon completion of your program. However, the benefits of having an edge over the competition as well as the additional pay for the same type of work are encouraging to proceed with taking the CDA. CDA exams vary in cost by state. They are generally held monthly. You can obtain a schedule of CDA exams from your program instructor, your State Dental Board, or from The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. They can also refer you to the best materials to study for the CDA test based on the requirements of your state. Dental Assistants in Prisons Dental Assistants in prisons are in great demand. Most states are trying to establish dental programs that include preventative care for all inmates. This is generally less expensive than the high cost of many procedures that result from not taking care of your teeth properly and not receiving a cleaning twice a year. Many Dental Assistants choose not to work in the prison arena because they are afraid to work with inmates. There are Dental Assistants who choose to work in prison facilities because they enjoy the challenge. Others really want to help all individuals, regardless of their criminal activities. They feel all individuals are entitled to quality dental care. Therefore, they do what they can to see that that level of dental care is available in all prison facilities. Others simply do it for the fact that it often pays more than other dental facilities, especially if you are employed as a Dental Assistant in a Federal Prison system. While the extra pay is often an incentive to work as a Dental Assistant in a prison system, the risk of injury and communicable diseases in much higher than in other dental facilities. Dental Assistants need to make sure that they are aware of such risks before they enter a prison facility as an employee. If you don't follow all policies and procedures as specified, you put yourself, other staff, and other inmates in grave danger. Many inmates have nothing to lose by trying to escape. It is important for Dental Assistants to never let their guard down. Inmates are great actors and con artists. Trust your instincts if you feel something isn't right. Dental Assistants should never be left alone with an inmate. Inmates have been known to physically abuse Dental Assistants in an attempt to over power them and escape. Most prison facilities safeguard against this by having the dental unit in a locked area of the prison that can only be opened by a guard outside the doorway of the dental unit. However, this does present the idea of taking a Dental Assistant or other staff member hostage as leverage to get their demands met. Dental Assistants need to make sure they never leave dental tools or equipment in the reach of an inmate. They can use most anything and make it into a weapon. It is vital to keep close track of all dental tools. Make sure to account for each and every tool prior to an inmate leaving the dental unit. If you think a dental tool is missing, notify your supervisor immediately. Then follow all policies and procedures in place for that particular prison facility. Dental Assistants are at risk of contracting a communicable disease in any dental facility because such diseases are transmitted via saliva, blood, and other bodily fluids. However, communicable diseases that can cause serious illness and even death are more likely to be found in a prison population than among the general public. Also, inmates are more likely to purposefully infect Dental Assistants and other staff members than the general public. Employment as a Dental Assistant in a prison facility is a unique career choice. It is not one to enter into without considering the benefits and the risks involved. You will have the opportunity to provide quality health care to the prison population. You will likely earn considerably more money than you will working in a regular dental facility. However, the dangers of working as a Dental Assistant in a prison facility are very real. It is important to assess these risks and prepare against them. You will need to guard all dental tools and equipment. You will need to properly protect yourself against communicable diseases. This can be a very rewarding career opportunity, but make sure your safety as well as they safety of others is always a top priority. Not being alert for even an instant can be the opportunity an inmate is looking for.
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