Do You Really Know What Your Dental Assistant Does?

Do You Really Know What Your Dental Assistant Does?

“Dental Assistant” and “Dental Hygienist” may seem to be interchangeable terms.

When you get to know your Dental Assistant, however, you’ll quickly learn that assistants have a very unique role in the dental office.

Can You Recognize the Dental Assistant?

The assistant wears scrubs and perhaps even a lab coat, just like the dentist and hygienist. He or she will also have a badge or name tag and look very professional. You may not be able to tell right away whether the first person you meet is a hygienist or assistant, but it becomes clear later on.

After you check in for a dental appointment, the assistant is likely to be the first person you meet. He or she will come to meet you in the waiting room and bring you back to a cleaned and prepared treatment chair.

The assistant will help you settle in, review the reason for your visit, and perhaps take a few x-rays, if necessary.

Come treatment time, the assistant will be right by your side as the dentist works.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

All Dental Assistants practicing in the State of Washington are required by law to have an active registration. This registration means that your Dental Assistant has received the required education and training on preventing disease transmission in the dental setting.

Additionally, assistants are required to be CPR-certified so that they can respond quickly in the event of an emergency.

Dental assisting can be easily learned on the job, but most assistants take a course at a dental assisting school to learn the basic skills before finding a job.

Some assistants choose to broaden their skill set by applying for a certification in dental anesthesia or an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) license.

Dental Assistant Responsibilities

Depending on the extent of a Dental Assistant’s training and experience, responsibilities can include:

●    Welcoming patients to the dental practice
●    Updating health history
●    Taking x-rays
●    Taking intraoral photos
●    Polishing teeth
●    Administering topical fluoride treatment
●    Placing dental sealants
●    Taking preliminary impressions
●    Fabricating temporary crowns
●    Administering nitrous oxide or “laughing gas”
●    Giving patients directions about preparing for or recovering from a dental procedure
●    Ensuring the dental practice is well-stocked with supplies
●    Cleaning and disinfecting treatment areas
●    Sterilizing dental tools and equipment
●    Serving as the dentist’s second set of hands during dental procedures

Dental Assistants work in different settings ranging from oral surgery practices to orthodontic treatment centers to general dental offices. They continually sharpen the skills needed for whatever specialty area they work in.

In general, Dental Assistants do anything they can to help keep the workflow of the dental practice running according to schedule.

The Important Role of Dental Assistants

Assistants make it easier for dentists and dental hygienists to do their jobs. They also play a critical role as the patient’s advocate during treatment. The assistant helping the dentist during a procedure will make sure you’re comfortable and relaxed at all times.

If you have any questions about your procedure or oral hygiene routine, feel free to ask your Dental Assistant for help. Many patients actually find it easier to talk with an assistant than with a busy dentist when they have concerns. A good assistant will help bridge any communication gaps between you and the dentist.

So the next time you see a smiling face when you walk into a dental practice, this could be the Dental Assistant. Remember that this is a carefully-trained, knowledgeable, hard-working, and empathetic professional.

Dental Assistants work to ensure you have a comfortable and successful appointment.

Need a Dentist in Tacoma?

Whether you have a toothache, want to talk about teeth whitening, or suspect that you need a filling, schedule an appointment at Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS. When you arrive, you’ll meet our team of superb Dental Assistants, Kaela and Brittany, and discover how they’re the lifeblood of our practice.

Call us today to plan your visit and learn more about Dental Assistants in Tacoma and how they contribute to healthier smiles for everyone.

Do You Appreciate All That Your Dental Hygienist Does?

Do You Appreciate All That Your Dental Hygienist Does?

For most people, the Dental Hygienist is someone who scrapes your teeth, pokes your gums until you bleed, and then lectures you on flossing.

It’s also easy to think that the Dental Hygienist is just there to polish teeth and guilt you into brushing better.

But your Hygienist actually plays a very important role in both the dental office and your oral health.

Who Is the Dental Hygienist?

You probably spend more time with the Dental Hygienist than any other member of a dental team, so it’s good to know who they are and what they do.

Each Hygienist has attended an ADA-approved program for learning the practice of dental hygiene. Their education could take from two to four years to complete depending on their academic programs at community or technical colleges, dental schools or universities. Their education involved taking exams and logging intensive clinical hours.

After they graduate, Hygienists are required to take a licensure examination to receive their license to provide dental hygiene care and patient education. You may have seen dental hygienists use “R.D.H” after their names to signify recognition by the state that they are a Registered Dental Hygienist.

Your Dental Hygienist is a well-educated professional who’s caught up on the latest in dental technology and research. They maintain their licenses by taking continuing education courses annually. He or she can answer patients’ questions and make everyone feel at ease during their appointment.

What Your Hygienist Does

The Hygienist spends about an hour with each patient. The time is usually spent cleaning your teeth, but this is nothing like your typical tooth-brushing routine.

Dental Hygienists have extensive education and training in oral health and the prevention of diseases like cavities and gingivitis. They use this knowledge to assess the condition of your teeth and gums.

After determining your oral hygiene needs, the Hygienist removes plaque and tartar (dental calculus) with special tools. These tools aren’t scraping off your enamel; they remove stains and gritty mineral deposits that are attached to enamel.

This cleaning reduces bacteria and debris that cause gum irritation. That’s why a regular professional cleanings by a Dental Hygienist help prevent gum disease.

There are some sharp tools involved in dental cleanings to chip away tartar. But Hygienists also use ultrasonic technology to remove stubborn deposits and irrigate the gums. Most cleanings also include enamel polishing to remove stains, to shine up teeth, and to wick away any remaining plaque.

A dental cleaning by a Hygienist shouldn’t hurt. You might feel uncomfortable if you have a lot of plaque and tartar on your teeth. Your Hygienist’s goal is to get your teeth and gums as clean as possible (without hurting you!) so that you can keep them healthy on your own. These cleanings essentially give you a blank slate to work with.

Hygienists do more than just clean teeth, however. They provide other preventative and diagnostic services such as:

●    Dental sealants
●    Fluoride treatments
●    Intraoral photographs
●    X-rays
●    Periodontal charting
●    Application of desensitizing medication
●    Application of antibiotic to treat gum disease
●    Administer local anesthetics

The Hygienist is also responsible for educating patients on proper oral hygiene technique. He or she can give you suggestions for more efficient brushing or easier flossing, according to your needs.

Struggling to floss around your braces? A Hygienist can help you out. Want a whiter smile? Your Dental Hygienist will have the best advice. Suspect that you have gingivitis? Go see a Dental Hygienist.

The next time your Hygienist “scolds” you about flossing just remember that they have your best interests at heart! Proper oral hygiene is critical to avoiding dental issues and is even linked to a healthy body overall.

Why Dental Hygienists Are Important

It’s not enough to just have someone fill teeth after they’re damaged. Whenever possible, the best route is to prevent damage and decay in the first place. Hygienists work alongside the dentist to help patients maintain optimum oral health and prevent the need for treatment like fillings.

While your dentist fixes problems with your teeth, your Hygienist is there to help you avoid problems before they start. He or she will also help you understand your treatment options when the need for care does arise.

As committed members of the dental team, Hygienists often help out with other tasks around the practice. They assist with sterilizing dental tools, restocking supplies, filing records, scheduling patients, and welcoming patients into the office.

Your Hygienist is key to your dental appointment running smoothly as well as your key to a healthier smile.

Visit a Dental Hygienist in Tacoma

Are you curious about how you can lower your cavity risk? Has it been a few years since your last dental cleaning? Want to get rid of your bad breath? Interested in a career as a Dental Hygienist?

Visit the Tacoma dentist, Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS, and schedule an appointment with Laura, our excellent Dental Hygienist, to learn more. And remember to ask for your FREE GIFT after your cleaning appointment while supplies last.

Do You Appreciate All That Your Patient Coordinator Does?

Do You Appreciate All That Your Patient Coordinator Does?

The Patient Coordinator, or Dental Receptionist, is usually the very first person you meet when you walk into a dental office.

A warm smile and friendly greeting put you at ease. You have a seat and wait for your appointment. When the treatment is done, the Patient Coordinator checks you out and you leave.

It might not seem like the Patient Coordinator’s job amounts to much.

In reality, your Patient Coordinator does a lot of hard work behind the scenes.

What Do Patient Coordinator Do?

Patient Coordinator must have excellent interpersonal skills to thrive in a dental practice. They need these skills to successfully soothe patients’ anxieties, remain calm in stressful situations, treat all patients with respect, and to explain dental procedures in a simple way.

When Patient Coordinators aren’t communicating with patients, they’re usually very busy communicating with someone else. They correspond with dental offices, labs, vendors and insurance companies. Patient Coordinators are responsible for placing orders for office supplies and filing insurance claims. They update patient records and ensure the proper data for each patient and procedure gets entered into the right chart.

Patient Coordinators are the ones who manage scheduling for the dentist, hygienist, and patients.

Because of having to look after so many little details, Patient Coordinators must be organized and skilled at using data entry and word processing software. They also answer the phone, send faxes, texts, and emails, scan forms, and keep the waiting area tidy.

If you’re ever anxious about a dental procedure or are confused about what treatment you’re scheduled for, you can count on your Patient Coordinator to explain things to you. He or she is essential to keeping the dental office running on-time and keeping you, the patient, happy!

What It Takes to Be a Patient Coordinator

A simple high school diploma is usually all that’s required to start out as a Patient Coordinator. But most dental practices aim to hire receptionists who have some administrative background.

Office administration degrees or dental receptionist courses help train individuals to become great Patient Coordinators.

Are you interested in a position as a Receptionist at a dental office? If you’re organized and friendly and love working in a fast-paced environment, then it could be the job for you.

Meet your Patient Coordinator at Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS, Family Dentistry

If you’re looking for a new dentist located in Tacoma, then Dr. Duke Bui is the one you want to see. Our practice is currently welcoming new patients and our wonderful experienced Patient Coordinator, Sharon, will be happy to help you make your appointment! Call us today to schedule.

The Consequences of Thumb Sucking

The Consequences of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is not only a common habit among babies, but it’s also a normal one.

Babies suck on their fingers to calm themselves. Sucking is so instinctive that babies can actually develop this habit while they’re still in the womb.

Thumb sucking continues to help children soothe and calm themselves in anxious situations for the next few years of their life.

But this natural habit can become a damaging one if it’s not checked in time.

How Thumb Sucking Affects the Smile

Sucking on a thumb or finger doesn’t usually cause problems to growing mouths. But some children use a lot of force and suck aggressively. This creates a strong vacuum in the mouth and puts a lot of pressure on the palate.

The palate can expand and morph at the site where the thumb presses against it. Eventually, the incoming adult teeth will start to jut out into an open bite.

The Serious Consequences of Thumb Sucking

An open bite is probably the most serious result of aggressive thumb sucking.

When teeth don’t fit together because of an open bite, this can lead to:

●    Speaking difficulties
●    Chewing difficulties
●    Mouth breathing (leads to dry mouth and other problems)
●    Needing braces
●    Low self-confidence
●    Dental issues later in life since tooth alignment affects dental health

Thumb sucking problems don’t stop with the teeth, however.

The thumb or finger your child prefers to suck on can also suffer some ill-effects. Chapped, dry, painful skin is one common issue. At worst, the fingernail can become warped and damaged and even develop an infection.

Lastly, there is the risk of exposure to germs, in general.

Small children are curious, often picking up interesting (and sometimes dirty) objects they find on the ground. Kids are also not as careful about avoiding disease the way adults are. Your child can pick up a serious illness because of habitually putting his or her hand in their mouth without washing it first.

Should You Stop Your Child From Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking is natural for babies and should not be discouraged. It’s healthy for a baby to self-soothe and your child may become very fussy if you try to stop him or her from sucking on their finger.

Additionally, a little microbe-exposure via a natural habit like thumb sucking is generally not harmful for babies. Some studies even suggest that such exposure to microbes is beneficial for the developing immune system.

Most toddlers naturally outgrow their thumb sucking habit. As children grow, they learn more appropriate ways to deal with their emotions and calm themselves down.

Older children should be emotionally and mentally developed enough to cope with anxiety rather than escaping it by sucking on their thumb. The trouble starts when a child sucks his or her thumb long into the years when adult teeth start coming in.

For this reason, the American Dental Association recommends that you start discouraging your child from thumb sucking when they are four years old, if they haven’t stopped already.

How to Stop a Thumb Sucking Habit

Avoid scolding your child for sucking their thumb. This may only create more anxiety which prompts them to suck even more.

Rather, seek to praise your child for not sucking their thumb, especially during times when they are prone to do so, such as at bedtime or when they’re scared.

If you notice your child is suffering from some anxiety or discomfort, try to address the root cause. Help your son or daughter feel comfortable around you and learn that they can come to you to express their feelings rather than seek solace in thumb sucking.

Set up a reward system so that your child has an incentive to leave their thumb alone. Give your child a sticker for a whole day of no sucking or take them on a special outing if they’ve avoided thumb sucking all week.

Children’s Dentist in Tacoma to Treat Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking can have some serious consequences. But it’s a natural habit and one that often resolves itself before you can even start to worry.

If you’re concerned about your child’s thumb sucking habit and need some tailored advice, then it’s time to see a Tacoma family dentist. Make an appointment at Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS for a consultation for you and your child to learn more about how to quit thumb sucking.