It’s Dental Assistant Recognition Week and the team here at Sierra Smiles is so proud to celebrate our critical crew members. Dental Assistant Recognition Week gives dental practices throughout the United States an opportunity to show appreciation for the important support that dental assistants provide to both the team and patients. It is one of our favorite times of year because we truly love our dental assistants and we recognize that without their hard work each and every day, our practice would be unable to provide the superior care that our patients have come to know and trust.
What Is the Role of a Dental Assistant?
You will encounter a lot of different care providers during your dental visits and you may not know all of their roles in facilitating your dental care. Our dental assistants are integral to your care because they provide foundational support for all of the treatments we provide in our dental office. If the dentist and hygienist are the hands of a clock, the dental assistant is one of the critical cogs behind the scenes keeping everything moving smoothly. Here are just a few tasks these amazing team members provide to support both patient and crew:
Pre-appointment Patient Prep
There are a lot of tools involved in even the most routine Hygiene Wellness Visits. Our dental assistants assemble sterilized tools and dental components needed to complete your treatment in a safe and timely manner. Their prep work ensures you aren’t left waiting in the chair before your treatment — no one enjoys waiting because your dentist office is not properly prepared. Your time is valuable and you don’t want to be stuck in the chair any longer than necessary.
Our dental assistants are an important part of ensuring that no appointment takes longer than it has to. Your dental assistant will also help you get comfortable before treatment, taking any necessary vitals or important information. They’ll ask if you have any questions or concerns you would like to address to the dentist and make sure you are ready for the next steps. They will assist in x-rays and other pre-appointment tasks, as well.
Dental assistants support dentists and hygienists during treatment by handing out sterilized tools, dental devices, materials for fillings or crowns, curing lamps, water and suction. A dental assistant will also provide water and saliva suction during treatment. They will dry areas of the mouth as the dentist works and ensure patient comfort by performing tasks like applying lip balm or helping adjust bibs and protective gear.
Our dental assistants make providing our patients with safe and comfortable treatment so much easier! They operate as an extra set of hands, eyes, and ears during procedures which is incredibly important when your dentist is in the middle of a procedure. They also serve as the voice of the patient, noting if the patient seems to be experiencing discomfort or needs the dentist to pause or answer a concern.
If you have visited our practice, you have definitely been educated on the damage harmful bacteria can do to your teeth and gums. The soft tissue in your mouth and a large number of tiny hiding spaces make it easy for bacteria to grow out of control and shift into an infection. That is not something you want to encounter at the dentist! Our dental assistants sterilize all of the tools we utilize during our dental treatments, ensuring that we don’t introduce bacteria into your mouth while performing your procedure.
Administrative and Office Support
In addition to their patient and treatment duties, our dental assistants also support our office team by updating records, scheduling appointments, and providing information for billing and insurance purposes. They are always willing to lend a hand wherever they are needed — and they are definitely needed often!
Rigorous Training and Hands-on Dental Experience
Dental assistants must receive comprehensive training to do their job effectively. At Sierra Smiles, the dental assistants have also gone through sleep and airway training in order to help identify areas of concern with patients. They have to have a great deal of dental knowledge even if they are not directly performing a procedure. Our dental assistants don’t just hand tools to the dentist, they know the name of each tool and its role in the treatment. They are familiar with the steps for treatment as well, so they can anticipate which steps to take next in support of the dentist or hygienist. With this, they have an understanding of the biology and structure of the mouth so they are able to assist with ease. If the dentist directs them to provide assistance with a particular tooth or region of the mouth, they can quickly perform their assigned tasks.
At Sierra Smiles, we take the role of dental assistant so seriously that we launched our own program for training new assistants called Assist to Succeed Northern Nevada. We wanted to create a curriculum that encompassed the vast requirements of the role and blend it with a focus on exceptional patient care, safety, and professionalism. We have been incredibly proud of our Assist to Succeed Northern Nevada graduates. Our most recent winter session, which began in January of this year, will graduate on March 26. Our new spring program will begin in April. That is a whole new generation of assistants to celebrate next year.
Our dental assistants spend 10 weeks in intensive training, learning the ins and outs of x-rays, crowns, Hygiene Wellness Visits, CPR, OSHA, HIPAA, patient care and so much more. Their hands-on experience smoothly translates into real-world application and career opportunities. We are still enrolling for the spring session if you’d like to learn more about how you can join this integral profession.
A Warm Thank You to Sierra Smiles Dental Assistants
In closing, we would once again like to express how truly grateful for the dental assistant team at Sierra Smiles. You are so important to us and to our success as a dental office. Our practice could not run without your dedicated support and your commitment to excellent patient care. Thank you so much for all that you do to make us proud and happy Dental Assistant Recognition Week!