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.