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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.