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Dental Care for Diabetics: A Quick Guide for Dental Assistant Students

2015-06-17 by Mark Harrington

Most people know that diabetes mellitus (commonly known as diabetes) refers to the metabolic condition of having above average blood sugar levels. This disease is generally a result of the body’s failure to utilize ingested glucose properly.

Most individuals suffering from diabetes are aware that the disease can actually cause harm to multiple areas of the body including the eyes, nerves, kidneys, the heart and more. However, what many people do not know is that diabetes can cause serious oral health problems as well. In fact, dental assistant professionals know that those with diabetes actually have a high risk of developing periodontal disease. Read on to learn more about periodontal disease and how dental assistants advise patients with diabetes to care for their teeth.

Understanding Periodontal Disease as a Dental Assistant

Industry experts know that periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. At its worst stages, this infection can result in tooth loss as well as an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.

While those with diabetes have a higher risk of getting periodontal disease than those without diabetes, periodontal disease can be caused by a combination of issues, like hormonal changes, smoking, poor oral hygiene and a family history of dental disease.

Dental Assistants Know That Constant Brushing and Flossing is Essential

Professionals with dental assistant training know that while everyone should be thoroughly cleaning their teeth regularly, doing so is absolutely crucial for diabetics. In fact, dental pros recommend that anyone with diabetes brush and floss their teeth after every meal or snack. However, if this is not possible (due to commitments like work or school), then twice each day will suffice. Cleaning the teeth will protect them from acid as well as the formation of plaque.

Students enrolled in dental assistant courses know that the beginning stages of gum disease rarely have any signs or symptoms. The disease can actually reach a very advanced stage before a patient begins to feel pain or notice any bleeding. That’s why preventative measures are a patient’s safest bet against any dental health issues.

Treating a Diabetic as a Dental Professional

Graduates of dental assistant college know that people living with diabetes can be treated using the same cleaning and treatment methods as those who do not have the disease. Of course, there are a few precautions that should be taken. During a cleaning, certified dental assistants typically remove all deposits that have formed between the teeth and under the gums. Since a diabetic patient’s gums may be sensitive, dental experts might be required to freeze the patient’s mouth to eliminate pain.

If a diabetic patient is required to take insulin, both dental assistants and dentists should confirm with the patient that he or she has in fact taken it before having any dental procedures done. During the appointment, dental professionals should watch the patient closely to ensure that there are no signs of an insulin reaction.

Are you interested in learning more about the dental industry? Find out more about the Dental Assistant Program offered at NAHB.

A Dental Assistant’s Guide to Braces

2015-03-25 by Mark Harrington

teeth with braces

Dental professionals know that the mouth is a complicated area of the body, especially where teeth are concerned. Teeth can become crooked or crowded while growing, or become damaged in an injury. Luckily, there is an assortment of treatments that exist to correct these issues.

Braces are generally applied by orthodontists to improve the look and health of teeth, and the once-limited selection has now evolved so that there are braces to suit every patient’s needs. Here’s a quick guide to understanding the differences between the four main varieties of braces:

Traditional Metals

Traditional braces are made of stainless steel brackets and wires that are held in place with small rubber bands. Metal braces are the most common and effective type available, but they are also the most visible. One great thing about metal braces, however, is that they are the least expensive type on the market, and there have even been significant updates to improve these braces over the years. Metal braces are generally much smaller today than they once were, and as graduates know from their dental assistant training, new innovations like heat-activated arch wires allow the teeth to move much more quickly and with less pain because they respond to the body’s heat.

While there are various other options that are much more discreet, children and teenagers tend to choose traditional braces because they allow for fun individual expression through the coloured rubber bands.

Camouflage Ceramics

Ceramic braces are essentially the same as traditional braces except that they are made from ivory-coloured or clear ceramic instead of stainless steel. This allows them to blend easily into the teeth so that they are a lot less noticeable than stainless steel braces. While patients are usually given the option of having coloured rubber bands with ceramic braces, most usually opt for clear bands, as they are less visible. Dental assistant school graduates know that while the actual ceramic braces do not stain or discolour, the rubber bands or ties can become coloured through the consumption of various foods and beverages. These bands and ties are changed regularly by the orthodontist, so every month or so the patient will have new bands altogether.

Hidden Linguals

While lingual braces may appear invisible, anyone who has taken dental assistant courses knows that they are actually similar to traditional braces, but they are just hidden behind the teeth, as opposed to in front of them. Lingual braces are much more expensive than both traditional and ceramic braces, mainly because the application process is much more complex and there are very few orthodontists that know how to properly apply them. One great thing about these braces is that they are not visible from the outside; however, they are much harder to clean and can be less effective if a patient’s case is very severe. Lingual braces can also be very uncomfortable (especially to those with very small teeth) and they can also cause speech problems, as well as slight oral injuries.

Invisalign

Just as the name suggests, Invisalign braces are invisible to the casual observer. Of course, the invisibility that’s offered by these braces does come at a much higher cost than any of the other options. One ideal characteristic of these braces is that they can be removed and replaced at anytime, so they allow people to eat and drink whatever they want, without becoming stained. While these braces are less effective than traditional options—especially in very severe cases—they do work great for people who do not have significant oral problems. One downside to Invisalign braces is that they are only available for teenagers and adults, so children are not able to benefit from their discreetness.

Do you know which type of braces are most popular for patients? 

Landing the Job: Interview Tips for Aspiring Dental Assistants

2015-03-11 by Mark Harrington

Many people dread the interview process. This might be due to a fear of unexpected questions, the possibility of rejection, or anxiety about saying the wrong thing. However, the interview is a necessary step for landing a great job. Dental assistant courses will equip students with all the necessary skills to land a rewarding position at a dental clinic – but of course, a successful interview is a mandatory first step to getting your foot in the door.

Here are some sure-fire ways to ensure your job interview is as successful as possible:

Showcase Your Positive Attitude

Dental assistants communicate with patients daily, and therefore must maintain a pleasant, kind and caring attitude at all times. During an interview, the hiring manager will be looking for these qualities, so use this as a chance to showcase your personable and likeable traits! For example, remember to smile, look your interviewer in the eye, and don’t sit with your arms crossed in a defensive way.

If available, bring in letters of reference from previous jobs—especially if these jobs highlight your interpersonal skills and experience with clients.

Dentists and dental nurses

Ask the Right Questions

Interviews can be quite stressful, and sometimes asking questions on the spot can be challenging—especially when your nerves get the best of you! To ensure that you have time to ask the right questions, keep any inquiries regarding pay, vacation time and personal days for after you have been hired. Instead, you might ask questions such as what qualities the clinic is looking for in a dental assistant, or how many patients are typical in a day.

Be Flexible

It’s important to demonstrate flexibility during an interview, as this will show the interviewer that the position is important to you, and that you are committed to your work. A dental assistant might work either full-time or part-time—but demonstrating your flexibility with scheduling will only make you a more desirable candidate.

What Can You Bring to the Table?

One of the first things that might be discussed in your interview is what skills you’ve gained from your dental assistant training. These will be more technical in nature, and focus on the everyday duties of a dental assistant. However, don’t forget to highlight your soft skills. For example, if you held down a part-time job while attending dental assistant school, you’ll know a thing or two about multi-tasking and meeting deadlines.  And if you’ve had experiences that helped develop strong interpersonal skills, don’t be afraid to mention that you love working as part of a team – great for collaborating with your colleagues at the dental office and making patients feel welcome and comfortable.

Be Prepared to Work

In a dental assistant interview, you might actually be asked to perform certain dental techniques from your training, so that the dentist hiring you can observe your skill level. Your interview could also involve meeting with the rest of the staff, so that the interviewer can see how well you get along with other employees. It’s extremely important to be prepared for hands-on work during an interview, so you can demonstrate your skills to the best of your ability.

Do you know any other tips that might be useful in a dental assistant job interview?

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