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.

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 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.

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!

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.