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Tips for Becoming a Better Dental Assistant
Dental Assistants are Important
Fears about Dental Radiation
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Tips for Becoming a Better Dental Assistant

10/03/2016
Relevant Campus(es): Upper Darby, PA; Voorhees, NJ; Wilmington, DE
Category(ies): Dental Assistant
Being your best on the job can give you greater job satisfactionThe job of a dental assistant is not easy. You spend hours on your feet, assist dentists during tricky procedures, follow infection prevention protocols, handle front office tasks, and take on any tasks that you are asked to do. With all of these responsibilities, you should be proud of your job!Taking your job seriously and striving to be successful are important aspects of a rewarding career. To be the best dental assistant that you can be, we are recommending 5 suggestions.1. Be proactive.
In a busy dental office, there is always something to do. Look around and spot what needs to be done, whether it is straightening the waiting room, restocking inventory, or talking to a patient who appears nervous.2. Be a good listener and ask questions.
Dental assistants are in a position of assisting others. For this reason, they need to be particularly good listeners. If the dentist or hygienist asks you to do something, be sure to listen carefully, think it through, and ask any questions that you might have. Remember, it’s better to ask questions than to make a guess and do it wrong.3. Be observant and organized during procedures
Many dental assistants are expected to sit chairside and assist the dentist during dental procedures. There can be fast changes of instruments and multiple tasks that need to be done at the same time. When the procedure begins, be observant. Try to anticipate what the dentist might need. Stay organized so you know where every instrument is when you need it. No one is perfect, and a procedure can get a little stressful. But be sure to learn from your mistakes. And remember, you will get better each time!4. Be a good communicator
Good communications are the key to so many things. Dental assistants need to communicate clearly in a number of areas. They need to communicate with patients about good dental hygiene. They need to communicate with dentists and hygienists during a procedure. And they need to handle office matters, such as insurance and payments, which might require communicating with insurers.5. Stay current with new procedures, skills, and technology
Like so many fields, dentistry is constantly evolving. Make an effort to attend continuing education opportunities. Don’t be afraid of trying new things. Keep up with the new trends in dental technologies as well as new office technologies. It’s best to be seen as someone who is always willing to learn and improve.Bonus tip:6. Keep up a positive attitude
In a dental office, people work closely together and see each other every day. Help contribute to a pleasant work place by being a positive person and showing your professionalism. Avoid complaining and try to develop a can-do attitude. Being approachable and friendly will help you become a valuable part of the office team.With these suggestions, we hope you are well on your way to developing the traits you need to be a successful dental assistant. Remember, your job is critical to the effectiveness of your dental office. Your work is valued, and you should be proud of your career!__The Harris School of Business offers a dental assistant training program at its campuses in Upper Darby, PA (near Philadelphia), Wilmington, DE, and Voorhees, NJ. Schedule a tour to learn more about our program!

Dental Assistants are Important

Dental Assistants are very important to the dentist and a dental practice in general. As discussed in previous blog posts of ours assistants have many responsibilities including: instrument passing, x-ray taking, chart notes, suctioning, impressions, and many more. Without dental assistants the dentist would be greatly overwhelmed. Dental assistants tend to be the first point of clinical contact for patients, so being friendly, being able to clearly explain procedures, and ask the right questions is essential. It is important for dental assistants to build trust with patients. Some patients are feel more comfortable talking to a dental assistant rather than the dentist and will direct questions to the assistant when the dentist is not in the room. Every assistant should be prepared for questions and to reply with educational answers, without being condescending. 

How the assistant acts can determine if a patient will accept and move forward with treatment or not, therefore acting appropriately is essential. The ability to connect with your patient is important in them accepting the treatment plan proposed. This means using simple language, not overusing dental terminology the everyday patient won't understand, and reading the patient's nonverbal communication. Patient's tend to spend the most amount of time with dental assistants so these roles they play are essential.

For those out there reading this who are dental assistants, how do you connect with your patients? 

Fears about Dental Radiation

Recently it seems as though more and more people have been fearful over the amount of radiation exposure from dental x-rays. Dental offices do minimize the exposure of radiation to patients it is still best to get all the pertinent information. At Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon students must take a full mouth set of x-rays on a patient to send to DANB in order to get their radiology certification. The same precautions taken in dental offices are taken at Practical Dental Assisting of Oregon as well.
Recently in an article published by AEGIS Communications in Inside Dental Assisting magazine, AEGIS spoke to the fear of patients in regards to dental radiation. The article recognized that the average annual radiation exposure from natural sources in the U.S. is roughly 3.1 millisieverts, of which no negative health effects have been found from these levels. Radiation from medical and dental sources make up about 48% of the total radiation exposure per year. Also according to the American Dental Association dental x-rays account for about 2.5% of the total medical radiographs and fluoroscopies.
Furthermore with advances and changes in technology the amount of radiation from x-rays is continually decreasing. Currently intra oral radiographs use a quarter of 1% of the radiation that was necessary for these radiographs 90 years ago.
As a dental assistant and as a patient you should be cognizant of whether or not the office you work at or go to has good radiologic practices, some of these include:
  • use the fastest image receptor compatible with the diagnostic task
  • proper exposure and processing techniques
  • use of appropriate radiation shielding (lead apron, thyroid shields, etc.)
  • limit the number of images obtained to the minimum necessary to obtain diagnostic information
The moral of the story is that the average annual radiation exposure has not caused adverse health effects, but you should still be aware of the x-rays that are being taken to ensure they are not being taken in excess.
To read the full article from Inside Dental Assisting click here.

7 habits of effective dental assistants

There's a difference between a highly valued dental assistant in a office and one who bounces from practice to practice. By making these habits your own, you will raise your value at work and be well-versed outside the office as well. The American Dental Assistants Association gives 7 habits that effective dental assistants should practice.
 
1) Be proactive: This means taking responsibility for everything you do, at home and at work. Be confident in the choices you make and don't blame others for your choices or mistakes. Own everything you do.
 
2) Being with the end in mind: Have a vision for your career goals, why you are in the field you are in, what you want to accomplish, etc. You want to be the one to shape your own career path, not letting others do it for you.
 
3) Put first things first: Have the ability to say no because having a balanced life is very important. Decide what your time is most valuably spent on and stick to that.
 
4) Think win-win: Look for agreements and solutions rather than trying to win all the time. After all, the dentistry field is a team environment, therefore compromises and agreements must be made.
 
5) Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Communicating effectively with everyone in a practice, the doctor, patients, and co-workers, is essential. You must be willing to put the needs of others ahead of our own.
 
6) Synergize: cooperate with others to remedy something. Be open to others'  suggestions and solutions. Be open to different things and to change.
 
7) Sharpen the saw: We work more effectively when we are fresh and sharp. This means knowing how to treat ourselves to be at our best, whether it be physically, socially, spiritually, or a combination of these.
 

From Dental Assistant to Office Management

Often dental assistants move to management positions in their practice as their career moves along. While dental assisting is a great career many assistants have shown that they are taking on new management type roles in their offices. Also some assistants see management positions as the next step in their careers. And while this can be a great opportunity for assistants, it is important to continue your education.
With moving from a dental assistant position to management there can be a variety of new duties that you could be responsible for. These can include, but are not limited to: interpret financial reports, communicate pertinent information to all members of the practice effectively, handle accounts receivable and accounts payable, etc.
It is important to take continuing education courses to help develop such skills needed for a mangement position. These CE courses are important because not only will you learn the valuable skills needed, but you will also show your employer and patients that you are wanting to develop your skills and help improve the practice.
To read the full article about this from Dentistry IQ, click here.