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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.