By Carolyn Breen, CDA, RDA, RDH, Ed.D, ADAA President 2012-2013
From the first “Lady in Waiting” or female attendant in the dental office to the dental assistant of the present, the scope of practice and responsibilities delegated to dental assistants has changed drastically over the years. Depending upon the state in which one is employed, there are a variety of significant intraoral procedures performed by chairside dental assistants on patients on a daily basis under the supervision of the dentist. The functions performed by dental assistants require background knowledge, manual dexterity, coordination and proficiency of multiple significant skills. As educators, you have a primary role in sharing this knowledge with future dental assistants as they prepare to take their place in the profession with their peers.
Although delegable functions outlined in state dental practice acts vary, the following is a partial listing of procedures dental assistants routinely perform on patients: preliminary impressions; placement and removal of rubber dams; placement and removal of matrices; placement and removal of archwires and ligatures; placement of amalgam; removal of excess cement; cementation of temporary crowns; removal of sutures; placement of sealants; administration of topical fluoride; placement of topical anesthetics; patient education; and placement and removal of periodontal and surgical dressings.
Some states also allow dental assistants to perform coronal polish, radiographic exposures and placement of permanent restorations. Many states also require specific education and credentialing to legally perform the expanded functions referenced. These and other notable services provided by the dental assistant contribute directly to the oral health of the public.
All too often, when asked our “title,” we automatically respond by saying “I am only a dental assistant.” As critical members of the dental workforce, we need to carefully examine the breadth of our role in patient care, value that we add to the dental team and, most importantly, the contributions we make to the health and welfare of the patients who come under our care. As educators, we need to instill in our students a sense of pride and accomplishment regarding our role on the dental team.
Department of Conservative Dentistry, Medical University of Warsaw, Poland
It is well accepted that regular oral hygiene is the key to oral health of patients and the toothbrush remains the centerpiece of it. The goal in toothbrush design typically focuses on providing maximum plaque removal capability while ensuring gentleness to both hard and soft tissues. Design of effective brushes thus requires understanding of oral anatomy, brush cleaning mechanics/tribology and also ergonomic considerations. However, the consideration of brushing techniques and habits preferred by patients is often an overlooked feature in effective brush design.
The development of power toothbrushes in the 1960s represented a key milestone for dentists and patients – with electromechanical energy increasing the number of cleaning strokes that could be applied within a finite period of toothbrushing. In their original designs, power toothbrushes tended to reinforce the brushing patterns of consumers with up and down or side-to-side brushing patterns. Later, more advanced designs were focused quite differently, in fact mimicking cleansing actions associated with professional cleaning.
The most successful mimicry of professional cleaning in a power brush was developed by Oral-B/Braun with oscillating-rotating technology in the early 1990s. Oscillating-rotating brushing motions simulated the tooth-by-tooth polishing actions that dental professionals use in applying prophylaxis cups in handpieces. In 2011, an independent Cochrane Collaboration report concluded that oscillating-rotating power toothbrushes reduced plaque and gingivitis more effectively than a manual toothbrush in the short and long-term; no other powered designs were consistently superior to manual toothbrushes.2 This conclusion was derived from their systematic review and meta-analysis of 50 clinical studies involving approximately 4,300 subjects in both short and longer-term trials.
Oral-B solved this paradox by the development of Deep Sweep (See Figure 1, right*). This unique multi-directional power toothbrush with triple zone cleaning technology, marketed as Oral-B Deep Sweep, is characterized by its unique, multi-directional movement derived from the three distinct brush zones:
Zone 1: The power tip for hard-to-reach back teeth Zone 2: The manual-like stationary bristles for thorough cleaning directed by the manual action of the user Zone 3: The wide sweeping-pulsating bristles for interdental cleaning
Collectively, these brushing zones permit patients to obtain superior plaque cleaning and gingivitis efficacy relative to manual and sonic controls in a platform matching the brush usage patterns preferred by many patients. Published comparative clinical research demonstrates the superior efficacy of the new multi-directional brush in plaque and gingivitis reduction relative to control brushes, even in the hard-to-reach interdental spaces and marginal areas. Patients formerly preferring a manual brush have enthusiastically embraced the novel multi-directional power brush in both consumer and clinical trials.
*Image reprinted with permission from American Journal of Dentistry.
Dr. Agnieszka Mielczarek received her medical degree from Medical University of Warsaw in 1985 and a PhD in early caries diagnosis in 2002. She works as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Conservative Dentistry Medical University of Warsaw, where she has been since 1992. Her research interests are in oral health promotion, early caries diagnosis/treatment, tooth whitening and oral biofilm.
ADAA welcomes Kathryn Harstine, RDA, as the 2012-2013 Student Trustee. The Student Trustee is appointed as Trustee for all ADAA dental assisting student members and serves an annual term. As Student Trustee, Ms. Harstine will be responsible for a number of duties related to student membership of ADAA, including writing the "Student News" feature in each issue of The Dental Assistant over the duration of her term.
A graduate of Glendora High School, Ms. Harstine has served as president of the student chapter of the ADAA at Citrus College in Glendora, CA, where she organized monthly meetings, helped promote fundraising and promoted student involvement while studying dental assisting. She recently received her certificate of completion in dental assisting and is working as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) in the practice of Dr. Mark A. Wong of Covina, CA.
Ms. Harstine is the daughter of Steve and Donna Harstine of Glendora. She is engaged to Robby Bell of Cucamonga, CA.
by Jan DeBell, CDA, MS, ADAA Eleventh District Trustee
What separates a professional in any occupation from a person who has a career? I often ask my students this question as they begin their educational journey in dental assisting. How would you respond to either my students or me if I asked you this question?
The first thing that comes to mind is the desire to continue learning in whatever career/profession one has chosen. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant, a hair designer or a dental assistant. Ongoing learning is a must to grow in your career/profession.
Where do all of these other professionals find additional continuing educational courses? For many, it is through conferences, workshops and reading professional journals. As dental assistants, we have our own journal, The Dental Assistant, which offers articles that apply to our professional lives. The Journal covers topics such as infection control, new products and new techniques just to name a few on the clinical side, while on the business side there are articles on how to manage difficult collections and how to create a positive work environment for the dental team. The Journal also provides us the opportunity to see how things are different but similar in the armed forces for their dental techs.
In the Journal there are opportunities to be gained from the use of our educational department that makes all of us aware of new courses that are being offered through the ADAA. These courses are constantly being reviewed, updated and in some instances discontinued so that all members of the ADAA are kept current and knowledgeable in the ever changing areas of dental assisting. These courses also offer to those dental assistants who are working on their fellowship or mastership honors the opportunity to meet the strict guideline to call themselves a Fellow or Master.
These courses also have one huge benefit for all members – as a paying member of the ADAA they are free. How many educational opportunities today are free? I strongly recommend taking advantage of all the perks that your membership has to offer and this is one of them.
(The ADAA Continuing Education Catalog has been updated for 2013! Take a look at ADAA's continuing education library of over 60 courses, covering topics such as radiology, infection control, medical emergencies, business management, pharmacology, and much more.)
There's much for students and educators to gain by attending the ADAA Annual Session in historic New Orleans! The ADAA Annual Session, held in conjunction with the ADA Annual Session taking place at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, offers something for everyone, whether you're looking to participate in ADAA Governance, network with other dental professionals, enhance your education or renew friendships and acquaintances. A full program is available for you to participate in and enjoy from Thursday, October 31, to Sunday, November 3. Choose from among more than 250 educational courses, many geared toward dental assistants and the entire dental team!
Registration to the general public begins Wednesday, May 1; 2012 attendees may register two weeks earlier, on Wednesday, April 17. Hurry and register today! Registration fees increase if you register after September 20, 2013, 5pm, CST. Attendees register through the ADA Annual Session registration system at ada.org/session.
For further details, be sure to look at the Annual Session Preliminary Guide featured in the upcoming March/April 2013 issue of The Dental Assistant, ADAA's professional Journal!
(Image: Brass band plays in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Photo by Jen Arnato. Provided courtesy of the New Orleans Conventions and Visitors Bureau.)
ADAA is offering a special new membership discount just for dental assisting educators! For a limited time, dental assisting educators can join ADAA, the professional association for dental assistants, for the discounted price of $99. This $99 discount reflects full dues membership through December 31, 2013.
If you are an educator who has not yet joined ADAA, this is the perfect opportunity for you and your students to become part of the Association that is dedicated to "making dental assisting a profession." If you are an educator who is already a member, share this offer with any colleagues who may not yet be members and encourage them and their students to join!
But hurry! This offer will only be accepted through March 31, 2013. Limit one (1) educator discount per 12 students.
The goals of the Student ADAA Chapters include providing support, encouragement, education and leadership opportunities to ADAA Student Members during their time in school. The benefits include development of future leaders in the profession, the opportunity to mentor student members in the profession and the Association, and increased participation of student members.
By Claudia Pohl, CDA, RDA, FADAA, BVEd, ADAA President 2011-2012
Welcome back! You are undoubtedly back to school and getting in the swing of things with a new group of students. I hope you had some time over the summer to get refreshed and revitalized. Teaching can be very rewarding and yet taxing at the same time because of our work helping students become the best they can be, providing them with the broadest possible education to prepare them for their new career in dental assisting.
As you gear up for this coming year, I do hope that you will incorporate membership in the ADAA into the arsenal of resources you provide them. Now there's even more at ADAA for students - there is a newStudent Page on the ADAA website with resources just for students, such as scholarship information, newsletters and the career center. Additionally, there is now an ADAA Student Facebook page giving students across the country the opportunity to connect in ways that are meaningful to them. Having free access to online education for all your students as an adjunct to their own materials is priceless. And of course, student members can develop a Student ADAA (SADAA) chapterat their own school.
One of the best things about having a SADAA Chapter is the connection and potential mentoring opportunities it provides for students with other working dental assistants prior to graduation. It offers them experiences and enrichment outside of their regular program and the potential to develop leadership skills. It will also help strengthen their voices in their professional organization - and ultimately in their profession as well.
I have had the pleasure of visiting students at many schools across the country this past spring as ADAA President. The opportunity for that will continue this year (in a more limited way). If you would like for me (or another ADAA represenative) to visit your school, please email me a request firstname.lastname@example.org I will do whatever I can to make that happen.
Finally, in an effort to support you in a more meaningful way and in conjunction with student membership and SADAA Chapter development, the ADAA Membership Council is rolling out a special Educator's promotion for a limited time. I hope you take advantage of this for both yourself and your students. For more information, visit www.dentalassistants.org after October 1, 2012.
If there is anything ADAA can do to make your job easier or bring value to your classroom, please let me know. In the meantime, have a wonderful year with your students and at the risk of repeating myself - thank you for all you do to educate and prepare future dental assistants and leaders in our profession!
by Lisa Sagel, MA, BS, P&G Oral Health Publications Manager
Dentalcare.comwas launched over 15 years ago by Proctor & Gamble (P&G)to offer valuble educational and research content to dentl professionals. A core component of the mission has been developing resources for educators and students. Today, the dentalcare.com Faculty and Student Corners host a range of materials, including teaching tools, case studies, a media library, a research database, information about fundraising opportunities with Crest Oral-B products, and product ordering.
A unique feature of dentalcare.com is the ability for educators to assign CE courses to students and track their scores and completions. The online CE library offers over 150 courses that can be assigned in conjunction with your dental assisting curriculum. To help you select courses to complete each stage of the curriculum, we recently developed a new five-page guide, using a leading dental assisting program as an example (see Figure 1, right). This guide can be downloaded in the dentalcare.comFaculty Corner.
Using the Assignment Feature
It's easy to use the Assignment feature. Key steps are outlined below:
4. Create New Assignments:Select the course you want to assign, along with the start date and due date. You can also choose to enter email addresses for your students if you want them to receive the assignment number and information by email.
5. Give Students Assignment Numbers: Each course you assign will have a unique assignment number. You can either use the e-mail function described in Step 4, or you can give the assignment number to students separately. They will need it when they submit their finished course for credit. Students can also enter the number on the dentalcare.com homepage to find the course assignment. (See Figure 3, right)
6.Review Existing Assignments:This section allows you to review all your assignments and view each participant's score and completion date. At a glance, you can get information regarding each course's name, number, start date, end date and scores.
7. Edit Assignments (if needed): Once you've created an assignment, you can edit the start date, the end date, or request an email notice of each student's completion.
We hope that you find the Assignment feature and new curriculum guide to be useful. Please write to us at email@example.com if you have any feedback on the program.
Want to encourage your students to get involved with ADAA? Are you interested in helping develop initiatives directed at dental assisting students? Both ADAA student members and educators are invited to apply for a position on the ADAA Council on Student Relations, which is comprised of five students and two educators. The council's purpose is to create policies and procedures that will benefit ADAA student members. It's a great way for educators to work together with students in ADAA.
All council work is generally done via email. The council receives directives each year from the ADAA President and is chaired by the ADAA Student Trustee, who provides guidance to the council regarding proposed initiatives and how to implement them.
Would you like to apply for a position on the council, or have students who you think would be a great addition to the council? The application form can be downloadedhere. Know a student who you think would be a great fit for the role of Student Trustee? The nomination form can be found here.
There's much for students and educators to gain by attending the ADAA Annual Session in San Francisco this year! Once again, the ADAA is hosting a Student Forum, where ADAA Past President Cindy Bradley will give an informative presentation on resumé writing. There will also be a presentation on job interviewing techniques, as well as a Student Networking session, light refreshments, door prizes and the raffle of one Coach item for a lucky winner!
Educators will benefit from the opportunities to attend CE courses, participate in ADAA governance, network with other dental professionals or renew old friendships and acquaintences with fellow dental assistants from all over the country. The ADAA Annual Session will conclude with the ADAA President's Reception event, where you can welcome and congratulate the new leadership for 2012-2013 over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Attendees will receive a "gold rush" bag, a complimentary door prize coupon for a Coach bag (courtesy of Second District), and a special gift from Colgate and ADAA. The reception is a ticketed event ($30), so buy your ticket today!
The ADAA Annual Session is the "Don't Miss" professional event of the year! Remember, you must must have a registration badge for the ADA/ADAA Annual Session in order to attend. The American Dental Association (ADA) handles all registration for Annual Session via ada.org/session.
Do your students know that the ADAA has a special dues structure for students and recent graduates? Students are given full privileges of membership in the ADAA with a greatly reduced dues structure ($35/$45 w/ liability). In addition, to make their transitions to their new careers as easy as possible, the ADAA has a graduated dues structure available. Instead of an increase to full active dues during students' first year (to an average of $145), they are given the opportunity to reach the full active dues over the next three years without any penalty or loss of member benefits. Isn’t that great?
As with many membership organizations, student members will receive an invoice for their dues renewal. If they are still dental assisting students, they can renew as students for $35 ($45 includes liability insurance) – as their instructor, you will need to verify your students' statuses on the renewal forms.
If a student has graduated, then that student will pay the first graduated dues of $50 plus state/local dues, plus $10 for liability, which is designated as an A1 (Active member 1). Please note that these graduated dues amounts must be paid consistently within the three-year grace period; a missed annual dues payment within this time frame will result with the former student member being charged the full dues amount in order to reinstate membership.