For dental assisting students who are training or seasoned assistants trying to stay current, this blog will offer all kinds of tips and tricks to improve the quality of your assisting skills and techniques. Enjoy the content and if you have questions or comments, please send feedback.
Often ignored, the management of the overhead operatory light is one of the most important tasks a Dental Assistant must master. You should control the lighting throughout the entire treatment, like a stage director during a broadway play. As your doctor manipulates different instruments and drills during (any) procedure, the well-trained Dental Assistant responds by immediately reaching up to ADJUST the illumination pattern for the best coverage. If the patient's head has to move slightly to improve the dentist's access, the light invariably must be moved also.
The operatory light is under your direct control and your doctor SHOULDN'T HAVE TO ASK YOU to make adjustments. Take charge of the light and the quality of the treatment will improve and your boss will be quite happy! Just remember to keep the bright pattern centered over the tooth or quadrant being treated, pay attention to the specific procedural steps (if your doctor wants the light off during composite bonding, for example) and NEVER LET THE LIGHT SHINE IN THE PATIENT'S EYES.
These are difficult times and dentists are feeling the economic pinch all over the country. If you are a newly trained dental assistant and want to get a head start on getting that dream job, here are a few tips that may help
During your first phone contact…
That should get you in the door for an interview. When you do get an interview appointment, try the following:
Hopefully, you will have demonstrated your professionalism, a happy & positive personality and great listening skill during your interview. If you are not hired on the spot and you really like the people and office, take the time to send a handwritten thank you to the interviewer. It doesn’t need to be long or wordy, just sincere. This is a touch of refinement and professionalism that few other applicants will offer.
How is it that suctioning saliva and debris from a patient's mouth is so difficult? The inside of the patient's mouth is made up of mucous membrane, a very fragile type of tissue. If you want to learn how to perform this necessary skill excellently, then these suctioning tips may help you. At the SmileSystems School of Dental Assisting, we teach a well-practiced method of oral irrigation that is very effective.
1) You must learn "a soft touch" — that is, how to contact oral tissues without causing trauma. Practice approaching the border of the patient's lip by SLOWING DOWN the movement of the HVE tip. Once you reach the entrance to the oral cavity, move the HVE tip in SLOW Motion as you suction. As your (this is a practice technique to develop sensitivity) 'slow motion' skill level improves, you can move the tip a bit more rapidly.
2) Pretend the HVE tip is as sharp as a razor! If you imagine the plastic or metal HVE end is sharp, like a knife, you'll be more careful as you approach the sensitive soft tissues.
3) Move the HVE device inside the mouth with great care to just barely touch the pink soft tissue. Never rest the sharp end of the tip against the gingiva adjacent to a tooth. Touch the tooth instead. Sweep the tip to the posterior of the mouth with great care, being cautious not to touch the super sensitive soft palate or uvula.
4) Use an extra mouth mirror. Make it a habit to pick up and hold a mouth mirror in your free hand to help you retract, gain better access and see the operating field more clearly.
5) Monitor the build-up of liquid and debris. When the fluids begin to collect in the anterior (floor of the patient's mouth), you can be sure there is plenty of liquid in the back as well. Get the pool of saliva and water building in the front, then automatically sweep the suction tip to the deep posterior molar area on your side. This will keep the total liquid content from bothering the patient and hindering the doctor's visual field.
6) Your doctor should never have to ask you suction. You have to take the initiative and just keep removing the fluids and debris. Be gentle. Be careful. Be thorough. Learn these and you will be excellent at suction science.
Your ability to utilize the air-water syringe while assisting during any dental procedure is extremely important. Improve your assisting skills with these solid tips.
First, get into the habit of using the working end of the syringe as your most important retraction instrument. Use the barrel of the syringe to gently pull the side of the patient’s cheek back as you carefully insert the HVE tip into the mouth. You can readjust the position of the syringe tip and aid in the soft-tissue retraction during an entire procedure. By far, the most important aspect of properly using the air water syringe during dental assisting is learning how to spray water and air at the same time to clear the tooth of debris and saliva so your doctor can clearly see the tooth. During a break, take your air water syringe and point it into the nearest wastebasket or sink and practice pressing the buttons at the same time to achieve an equal mix of air and water. When the plume coming from the tip looks like the aerosol from a spray can then you are creating the right mixture. If you seem to get more of a water stream than an aerosol you need to adjust the pressure towards the other button to get an equivalent mix. This is not like flipping a switch, it requires practice, sensitivity and a honed sense of touch. Every air water syringe will demonstrate its own unique sensitivity requirement for the buttons to work correctly.
REMEMBER: Learn how to spray water and air in a powerful aerosol every time
Next, when a tooth is being prepared, the key to effectively cleaning the target area is to get the tip of the syringe approximately 1 1/2 inches away from the tooth and spray (air & water, aerosol) using a continuous circling motion with the working end of the syringe. The movement is almost like drawing the diameter of a dime with the tip of the syringe while you are spraying. By changing the location the spray is coming from, turbulent deflections and eddies of the high power spray will rapidly clean the surface of the tooth. At the same time the HVE tip must be placed as close to the prepared surface as possible to capture all the water and deflected spray. The technique that we teach at the SmileSystems School involves learning how to spray air/water for a second and a half, immediately followed by an air blast for a second and a half.
REMEMBER: Spray for 1.5 seconds, then only air for 1.5 seconds (2 cycles)
This is the most important part of clearing the preparation area of debris and then drying it for proper visualization by the dentist. Remember, spray for 1.5 seconds then air for 1.5 seconds. Also remember to move the tip in that little circular motion during both cycles.
REMEMBER: Move the tip in little circular motions during both cycles
This technique will almost always result in an extremely clean tooth surface that is now dry and easily seen. Practice your spray technique over and over in the waste can until you can press the buttons with your eyes closed and you get the same volume of air and water aerosol every time. Now you are on your way to mastering the air water syringe and improving the quality of the dentistry that you help to provide.
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