The American Dental Association recommends that every person visit the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings. As part of that visit, you will meet with one of our dental assistants called a “dental hygienist”. These are licensed dental professionals in our office that focus on the making your teeth healthier than when you walked into the office. Find out why we give them recognition and what they do!
What’s a Dental Assistant?
Have you ever gone to the dentist and had a different dental professional (other than the dentist) work on your teeth? You were likely in the professional hands of a dental assistant, also known as a “dental hygienist”. A dental assistant is someone that assists a dentist in the care of the mouth. Dentists can do all the dental work by themselves—as they have the training for it—but there would be a limited amount of patients a dentist could see without help. A dentist can become overloaded in how much dental work there is to do in a region, and must focus on dental procedures that are more serious.
This is where the dental assistant comes in. Your hygienist will be someone who has gone to school for specific training in doing dental hygiene in a professional setting. Often, their trade is accomplished in 2-4 years depending on the dental assistant program. The definition of this type of dental worker is a “licensed dental professional that is registered with a dental association.” That registration can only happen when several years of training has been performed and the hygienist has received high enough marks in the trade.
Differences from Other Dental Professionals
A dental assistant is different from other types of dental professionals. When it comes to training and education, a dentist will have to receive 4 years of undergraduate training at a university. They will then have to be accepted into a dental school that requires 4 more years of training. To perform cosmetic dentistry, endodontics, pediatric dentistry or orthodontics, there are even more years of training and education on top of that. Dentists (and those in dental specialities beyond dental school) are looking at about 10 years of training and coursework.
A dental assistant will typically take about 3 years to complete their programs, and many of these will be at trade schools in programs specifically catered to dental hygiene practices. The need for dental hygienists is ever growing as the population increases. It is expected that there will be a 20% increase in dental assistant employment within the next 10 years alone. A dentist will be trained in all aspects of correcting and preventing oral health diseases and issues. A hygienist will be trained to remove all plaque, tartar, stains and foreign substances from the teeth. They learn how to use x-ray machines and perform x-ray imaging for the mouth. An assistant will learn how to mix and use materials for sealants, fluoride treatments, composite materials for procedures and more. Documentation, history reports, proper oral hygiene techniques and much more is part of what a dental assistant will do in dental offices.
Recognizing Dental Assistants
Every year, the American Dental Assistants Association and other organizations such as the American Dental Association, celebrate Dental Assistants Recognition Week. This will always be the first week of March each year and is a week to recognize dental assistants. Without them, it would be hard to keep a dental practice functioning. Without dental cleanings and comprehensive exams that dental hygienists help perform, many dental issues would not be brought to the attention of a dentist doing other work.
These professionals can truly take the time needed to meticulously clean the teeth and inspect every nook and cranny for signs of tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer and other oral issues. Those issues are brought to the attention of the dentist who may have a limited window of time to spot dental issues in the mouth. With their examination and expertise, small decay or oral disease issues can be resolved quickly.
Dental assistants are not only an integral part of comprehensive exams and dental cleanings, but aid the dentist during procedures. They prep materials, mix bonding solutions and cement, view patient records, are involved in dental procedure planning and much more. Every dental procedure you have will involve a dentist and one or two dental assistants in order to treat your mouth properly.
Celebrating Dental Assistants Recognition Week
During the week of March 3-9, 2019, dentists and the people in their practice recognize dental assistants on their team with activities, press releases, photo sharing online, recognition packages with gifts and other benefits. If you have a dental assistant that has been an integral part of your dental experience, let them know! Every dental office will have a way that you can show your appreciation and support of dental assistants. For specifics of how to recognize someone in our office, call Dr. Evanson today at (720) 409-0008!Leave a reply →