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Dental Assistant School Grads: Here Are the 4 Best Brushes Available

2016-12-21 by Mark Harrington

Tooth brushes in glass

A proper brushing and flossing routine is essential in order to maintain good oral health. There are so many products on the market, though, that it can sometimes be hard to know which options are the best. From dental floss, floss sticks, mouth wash, electric toothbrushes, and manual toothbrushes, the options are seemingly endless.

As a dental assistant, you’ll be able to help dentists educate their patients on how to maintain good oral hygiene. And while a top-of-the-line toothbrush might not always be necessary, many do provide helpful features that could help your future patients take better care of their teeth.

Which toothbrushes stand out from the rest? Read on to discover four top toothbrushes you can recommend to your patients.

1. Recommend the Oral-B Pro 1000 After Dental School

The Oral-B Pro 1000 is a great electric toothbrush which offers plenty of features you might love once you become a dental assistant. The first is a two-minute timer that helps your patients know how long to brush for. Most people brush their teeth for a much shorter period than they should. Fortunately, this toothbrush serves as a friendly reminder to keep going until the full two minutes are up.

dental school

Electric toothbrushes with timers can help your patients brush for the necessary amount of time

In addition to a helpful timer, the Oral-B Pro 1000 comes with a wide variety of replacement brush heads, making it easy for patients to choose the best one for their needs.

2. Grads of Dental School Will Love the Colgate 360 Toothbrush

There are limited studies available about the efficacy of electric toothbrushes compared to manual toothbrushes. In fact, most dental experts will agree that if a patient has good brushing technique, a manual toothbrush can be just as effective as an electric one. For your patients who are opposed to electric brushes or who don’t want to make a large investment, the manual Colgate 360 Degree Adult Full Head Toothbrush could be a great option.

dental assistant training

With proper technique, manual brushes can be just as effective as electric ones

As professionals who attend dental school know, most of the bacteria in the mouth lives on the cheeks, gums, and tongue. That’s why the Colgate 360 is such a great option. With a tongue and cheek cleaner on the back side of the toothbrush, your patients will be able to thoroughly clean all areas of their mouth.

3. Recommend the Colgate Extra Clean Toothbrush After Dental Assistant School

Another great manual toothbrush your patients could consider is the Colgate Extra Clean Toothbrush. Its circular bristles are specifically designed to work with the proper circular brushing motion that professionals with dental assistant training advise their patients to practice. The bristles also have cleaning tips, which helps reach into the crevasses between teeth and brush out germs and debris. In addition, it comes with an easy-to-grip handle that provides precision while brushing.

4. Grads of Dental School Might Want to Try the Philips Sonicare 2 Series

The Philips Sonicare 2 Series is an electric toothbrush that is a top favourite among dental professionals. Like the Oral-B Pro 1000, it also features a two-minute timer to help patients brush for the proper amount of time. The Sonicare also offers a convenient rechargeable battery so that patients won’t have to replace the battery pack once the power is used up. One perk the Sonicare has over the Oral-B Pro 1000 is that it operates much more quietly. However, it is a little more expensive and has less replacement brush head options available. Fortunately, whichever option your patients choose, their teeth will be in good hands.

Are you interested in enrolling in dental assistant school?

Contact the National Academy of Health and Business to learn more!

Treating Patients with Dentures: 3 Tips for Dental Assistant School Grads

2016-07-27 by Mark Harrington

dental assistant programs

More than one 20 per cent of Canadians over the age of 60 have no natural teeth. Health Canada maintains that natural tooth loss can lead to changes in the way patients eat, which may result in nutrient deficiency, speech difficulty, and/or weight loss. Dentures help to prevent these issues by restoring a natural feeling in the mouth. David Jenson, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health, explains that dentures change lives, as the teeth don’t move at all and can help get people back to normal functioning. As a dental assistant, you’ll have the opportunity to be part of restoring this natural feeling to patients and improving lives.

Continue reading to discover three effective tips for treating patients with dentures.

1. Dental Assistant School Grads Know About Denture Cleaning

There is some upkeep required with dentures in order to maintain their look and prevent infection. During appointments with patients, graduates of dental assistant school may see how, or have the responsibility of, removing stains and calculus, which is a form of hardened dental plaque. Some dentists have ultrasonic cleaning capabilities for dentures. These ultrasonic instruments actually vibrate plaque and calculus off of dentures. A good tip is to advise patients that they can purchase these machines for their homes, to keep dentures ultra-clean in between appointments.

2. Grads of Dental Assistant Training Know that Denture Home Care is Important

Denture care at home often extends beyond purchasing an ultrasonic cleaning machine. Patients will need to soak and scrub dentures daily in order for their cleanliness to be maintained. The entirety of a mouth becomes covered with saliva within about 30 minutes, which then can serve as a base on which oral debris and microorganisms can start to form. Dentures are usually fabricated out of resin, meaning they don’t always have completely smooth surfaces and so plaque and calculus can build up in its nooks and crannies. In addition, after you graduate from dental assistant training and begin to work with patients with dentures, you may find out that there is a process of ‘accommodation’ that patients need to go through, during which time the mouth may not respond normally to bacteria and plaque buildup—meaning patients don’t notice it is there.

Dental Assistant Training

It is important to advise patients about proper cleaning methods for dentures, like soaking them

3. Students in Dental Assistant Programs Know About Denture Adhesive

How exactly do dentures stay in the mouth? Dentists and dental assistants use denture adhesives to ensure that dentures stay where they need to be; on either side of the tongue. Studies have shown numerous times that dental adhesives can be used regularly with no changes to the natural activity of the oral cavity.

Throughout your career, make sure to advise patients that they should apply denture adhesive only to clean and dry dentures, while keeping the cap dry to prevent any clogging in the bottle.

Whether it’s advising patients about when and how they should apply dental adhesive, knowing how to clean dentures, or advising patients about home-care methods for dentures, these tips will put you on track to succeed in a dental office.

Want to find out how dental assistant programs can teach you more about how to care for patients?

Contact an advisor today to find out more.

Taking Dental Assistant Training? Here’s a Brief Guide to Laser Dentistry

2016-02-03 by Mark Harrington

dental assistant school

The word laser is an acronym, which stands for ‘Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.’ Over the past few years, laser technology has found its way into dentistry. Lasers have proven to be a very safe and effective tool in treating a wide range of oral health issues. In fact, lasers are generally used in conjunction with a wide range of other dental instruments.

Many dental offices in Canada use laser technology to treat patients. If you’re interested in pursuing dental assistant training, you might find work in a dental office that uses laser technology. Read on to learn more about the history of laser dentistry, what it’s used for, and some of the benefits it provides to patients.

Laser Dentistry: A History for Students Pursuing Dental Assistant Training

The first laser system used in dentistry was developed by a dentist named Dr. Terry Meyers and his brother William in the late 1980′s. Shortly after this development, the “dental laser revolution” began. After developing their product, the D-Lase 300, the Meyers brothers founded the American Dental Laser company. And, within a short period of time, several other dental laser associations were created, giving the dental industry a lot of exposure to laser technology.

In 1991, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted American Dental Laser clearance that allowed the company to bring its product to the market for use on soft tissues. Professionals with dental assistant training know that today, dental laser technology has evolved, as it can also be used on hard surfaces like enamel and dentin.

Dental Assistant School Grads Know Lasers are Used for Many Dental Procedures

Lasers cannot be used for all types of dental procedures. However, after years of testing, dental experts have deemed lasers safe for some common practices. These include:

  • Reducing the size, pain and discomfort of canker sores and cold sores
  • Exposing wisdom teeth that have only partially poked through the gums
  • Removing muscle attachments that limit proper jaw or tongue movement
  • Performing biopsies
  • Reshaping or removing gum and bone tissue for crown lengthening procedures

Although dental lasers aren’t capable of doing all the work for procedures like root canals, they can be very helpful in treating infections. Recent grads of dental assistant programs know that tooth whitening is among the most popular reasons dental lasers are used. Laser tooth whitening is so popular, in fact, that there are entire dental practices devoted only to performing that procedure.

Lasers have become a popular tool for teeth whitening procedures.

Lasers have become a popular tool for teeth whitening procedures.

Understanding the Benefits of Laser Dentistry

One of the major benefits of laser dentistry is that for some procedures, dentists can use a laser instead of a drill. Dental experts know that the sound and feeling of drills can be the cause of many people’s anxiety when visiting the dentist’s office, so lasers offer patients a much more relaxing experience.

Dental laser technology is precise, and when it is used to perform certain procedures, patients may not even require anesthesia or stitches. Lasers can also reduce bacteria in gum tissue and cavities, and patients who receive laser treatments report less symptoms and shorter healing times than with traditional methods.

Choose a dental assistant school that offers relevant training for today’s dental practices.

Visit NAHB to learn more about our dental assistant program or to speak with an advisor.




A Dental Assistant’s Guide to Helping Patients Choose the Right Toothbrush

2015-08-05 by Mark Harrington


Given the sheer number of options out there (sometimes spanning a whole aisle at the pharmacy), choosing the right toothbrush can be a confusing task. When it comes to modern dental care, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution.

In fact, toothbrushes are now available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Additionally, every toothbrush features different types of bristles as well as bristle patterns.

Some patients might even feel like selecting the perfect toothbrush requires a dental college diploma, or at least some expert guidance from a certified dental assistant!

If you are planning to enroll in dental assistant courses, or you have already started your program, read on to learn more about the surprisingly complex world of toothbrushes—and how you can break it all down for your future patients.

Dental Assistants Know that Size Matters

While toothbrushes come in many sizes, dental assistant school graduates know that the head of a toothbrush should offer the user easy access to the surface of his or her teeth. Children generally have very small mouths and teeth; therefore, a toothbrush with a head size between 1.5cm and 2cm would be most effective. Most adults require a toothbrush that is at least an inch tall, as their teeth and mouths are much larger than those of children.

It’s important to note that if a toothbrush is not the right size, it can become very difficult to maneuver while brushing. Remember that effective brushing consists of reaching every area of the mouth, including the backs and sides of the molars.

Understanding Bristle Varieties as a Dental Assistant

Toothbrushes are available with soft, medium or hard nylon bristles. During your dental assistant training, you will learn that soft bristles are the safest and most comfortable choice for the majority of people, especially children. Dental pros generally warn vigorous brushers to steer clear of medium- and hard-bristled brushes, since these could damage the gums, root surface and tooth enamel. Medium and hard bristles work well for individuals with poor manual dexterity, or those who tend to brush very gently.

Bristle Patterns Play an Important Role

The way the bristles are arranged on a toothbrush is referred to as the bristle pattern. You may have noticed that the bristle pattern is sometimes different on select toothbrushes. Industry experts understand that different patterns affect the way that plaque and debris is removed from the teeth. Here is a quick guide to the some of the most popular options:

Block pattern: bristles are all the same height and length and arranged neatly.

Wavy pattern: bristles are arranged in a wavy (or v-shaped) pattern, allowing for better contact with areas around tooth surfaces.

Crisscross pattern: bristles are arranged in a crisscross pattern to lift plaque effectively.

Dental assistants typically help patients select their ideal toothbrush after considering their specific needs, brushing behavior, and general oral health. They may even perform a quick demonstration to show patients how they can fully maximize their toothbrush’s unique features.

Are you considering enrolling in a dental assistant program? Visit NAHB for more information or to speak with an advisor.

The Fundamentals of Preventative Dentistry

2015-06-10 by Mark Harrington

Dental assistant training

Dental health professionals know that preventative dentistry refers to the practice of caring for one’s teeth and gums in order to maintain good oral health. Experts recognize tooth decay and gum disease as the two main causes of tooth loss, and preventative measures are the best way to ensure their patients maintain a mouthful of healthy teeth for life. Preventative dentistry can be practiced in a wide range of ways including regular brushing and annual visits to the dentist.

If you are pursuing a dental assistant career, you will soon learn all about preventative dentistry. Read on for a quick guide to how it works, why it is recommended by dentists and what it encompasses.

Dental Assistants Recognize the Benefits of Preventative Dentistry

Dental assistants know that patients who practice preventative dentistry will benefit by reducing their risk of getting cavities, gingivitis and a wide range of other dental problems. Preventative dentistry goes far beyond simply protecting the teeth, also working to prevent oral diseases like mouth cancer and denture stomatitis. Professionals who have had dental assistant training know that it is never too late to practice preventative dentistry.

Understanding How Diet Can Affect Oral Health

Dental assistant school graduates know that one of the most common causes of tooth decay is sugar consumption. This means that regularly munching on foods that have very high sugar contents will harm the teeth if the proper care is not provided afterwards. While brushing often is a clear way to prevent decay, experts know that snacking on foods like cheese, fruit, nuts and veggies naturally helps cleanse the teeth, and can also aid in preventing gum disease and mouth cancer.

Dental Pros Are Well-versed in Prevention Strategies

Experts holding a dental assistant diploma know of many preventive oral care strategies that can be practiced both at the dental office by a professional, as well as at home. Some of these include:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Brushing and flossing twice a day
  • Fluoride treatments and the use of fluoride toothpaste
  • Regular visits to the dentist
  • Dental cleanings and screenings once every six months
  • Occasional x-rays to look for hidden signs of problems
  • Sealants can prevent teeth from decay
  • A mouth guard should be worn during sports and can be worn while sleeping to protect teeth from breaking or grinding

Additionally, dental pros recommend that smoking and drinking alcohol be avoided altogether, since these are sure-fire ways to negatively affect the health of your teeth and mouth. In fact, they can both cause dry mouth, tooth discoloration and plaque buildup. Smoking alone is known to cause gum disease, tooth loss and oral cancer.

Can you think of any other preventative dental strategies that you might suggest to patients once you have earned your dental assistant diploma?


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.


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?

4 Ways to Treat Sensitive Teeth

2015-02-18 by Mark Harrington

Dental school

Whether you plan to enroll in a dental assistant school or have already begun your studies, you will need to know the causes of and treatments for sensitive teeth. There are many reasons why patients experience teeth sensitivity, ranging from the type of food they eat to the way they sleep. Continue reading to discover some of the most common causes of sensitivity and the latest treatment methods.

The Right Toothpaste for the Job

Dental school graduates know that there are plenty of products on the market for treating sensitive teeth – and one of the most accessible is toothpaste. Pastes that contain an active ingredient called potassium nitrate are designed to sooth and prevent tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity occurs when a tooth’s enamel has been worn down and its dentin is exposed. The dentin contains tubules that run directly from the tooth’s center (where the nerves are located), and when exposed, these tubules can be stimulated by changes in temperature or specific foods (cold, sour etc.). Potassium nitrate helps treat tooth sensitivity by blocking these tubules and reducing their exposure.

Mouth Guard Protection

Students pursuing dental assistant training learn that there are various other ways that teeth can become sensitive. Bruxism, for example, is one very common source of sensitivity. Bruxism is a condition in which individuals grind, grate or clench their teeth. This typically occurs during sleep, but may also happen unconsciously during the day. One thing that is certain about bruxism is that it usually leaves teeth feeling extremely sensitive. Dental assistants know that protecting the teeth by wearing a mouth guard is one way to prevent any pressure, damage, and jaw pain.

Fluoride Application

Fluoride can be applied to the teeth to help strengthen their enamel and dentin. As a result, some of the pain and discomfort caused by sensitivity can be reduced. Treatments that contain the highest level of fluoride (and might provide the most relief) are available at a dentist’s office. A trained dental professional might apply fluoride to a patient’s teeth as a gel, foam or even a varnish. While the varnish is painted directly onto the teeth, the foam can be put into a mouth guard that is then worn for approximately five minutes. Gel fluoride can be applied either of these ways.

Food Limitations

Sometimes prevention is the best form of treatment – and a little prevention can actually go a long way where tooth sensitivity is concerned. Dental professionals understand the dangers of exposing teeth to copious amounts of acidic foods and beverages, like fruit juice, red wine, oranges and pickles. Since acid literally attacks the enamel, dentists and dental assistants recommend limiting the intake of these foods to avoid sensitivity. In fact, acidic foods and drinks should be consumed with caution even for those who do not suffer from sensitive teeth.

Do you know any other ways to treat or prevent sensitive teeth?

Tooth-Saving Tips for the Physically Fit

2015-01-07 by Mark Harrington

fitness couple

Regular exercise is generally great for you – it controls weight, helps prevent disease, improves your mood, and is a real energy booster. But, did you know that exercise could actually be bad for your teeth? Studies have shown that there is a correlation between athletic activity and poor oral health – and there are several reasons for this link! Continue reading to find out how you can maintain both the health of your body, and your teeth.

A Rising Trend amongst Athletes

Though professional athletes spend a lot of time training and working on their physique (to boost their performance in competitions), they are apparently seriously lacking where good oral health is concerned. An interesting survey at the London 2012 Olympic Games showed that 18% of athletes felt that their poor oral health had a negative effect on their performance – and, a shocking 46% of the athletes had gone an entire year without seeing their dentist.

Harmful Habits

Though there is no solid evidence that pinpoints the exact cause of this pattern among athletes, they do embrace certain habits that play a part in poor dental health. Some of these include the high intake of carbohydrates – which tend to linger on teeth and can cause decay – as well as constant dehydration. Anyone who has had dental assistant training can tell you that saliva protects your teeth from decay – so it’s easy to see how athletes (who are dehydrated regularly) are prone to poor oral health.

Sports Drinks: High in Energy and in Sugar

Sports drinks are great for providing that thirst-quenching boost of energy you need to get through an athletic test of endurance. However, as students in dental assistant school know, these drinks are also extremely high in sugar, which makes them great at something else: tooth decay. While not consuming energy drinks altogether is probably an unrealistic solution for an athlete (who needs a lot of energy), opting for water instead can give teeth a much needed break. You might also try using toothpastes that are high in fluoride, and of course, brushing more often!

The Trouble with “Swimmer’s Tooth”

Some swimmers might notice that after spending a lot of time in a pool (likely filled with a wide range of chemicals) their teeth may start to discolour or stain. “Swimmers’ Calculus” refers to the reaction between the chemicals in pool water and the proteins that are found in saliva. If you swim regularly, you’ll notice that your teeth may turn slightly brown after being exposed to over six hours of chlorinated water. Of course, there is a way to keep your teeth white and continue swimming – you can try visiting your dentist at least three times a year for cleanings (or, perhaps befriend someone who has graduated from dental school).

Save a Tooth, Wear a Mouthguard

Depending on your athletic activity of preference, there is sometimes a possibility of getting hit in the face with a flying object (ball, racket, birdie etc.). So, you’ll have to find ways of taking care of those pearly whites! How? Well, simply ducking when a ball is headed towards your face is one way – however, you might not always “have your eye on the ball” so to speak, so it’s best to play it safe by wearing a mouthguard when you partake in any sport.

How do you keep your teeth in top shape when exercising?

Strategies for Soothing Anxious Dental Patients

2014-10-22 by Mark Harrington

Dental school

If you have ever felt nervous at the dental office, rest assured that dental anxiety is not just the rehashing of silly childhood fears, or a make-believe condition. A survey by the American Association of Endodontists found that 80% of adult Americans genuinely fear the dentist. The truth is, nobody really enjoys having a mouthful of metal tools – and all of that poking and prodding can be very invasive. Elderly citizens are more likely to have dental fear, due to memories of previous procedures done when anaesthesia wasn’t as efficient and dental offices focused less on comfort. If you have ever completed an internship as part of a dental assistant program, you’ll have witnessed this anxiety up close, and probably took on the responsibility of calming a patient. While everyone reacts differently in stressful situations, there are a few common strategies used by dentists and dental assistants to help patients feel more at ease.


Most dental offices these days are equipped with a television so patients can watch movies or TV shows while awaiting or receiving treatment. Not only does this distract patients from their procedures, but it also gives the dental office a warmer, less intimidating atmosphere. Some dental offices might play music in the background, or even allow you to listen to your own music on earphones. “Dental spa” is a nickname for certain practices where patients are treated to complimentary spa-like services such as mini massages, or hand or foot treatments during the dental procedure.


One of the best ways to keep anxiety at bay is remove the mystery behind dental procedures. The “tell-show-do” technique can be used effectively for adults and children, explaining techniques and procedures before and while they happen, much as you were taught in dental assistant school. Show them the equipment you are using and explain what it will be used for. Breaking down your approach into steps helps reassure patients, letting them know exactly what they will experience next and why. Language is also very important when dealing with anxious patients. Informing patients that they may feel a bit of pain, rather than telling them they’ll feel nothing at all, is a practice that builds trust. A dentist and dental assistant should avoid using words like “shot”, “hurt” or “needle”, as these terms invoke nervousness and negativity.

Pharmacological Techniques

In cases where behavioural and psychological approaches have been unsuccessful, a patient may request to be sedated. Many types of sedation methods are taught in dental school, but the oldest method used by dentists is nitrous oxide – also known as laughing gas. This sedative is inhaled by the patient, and produces a conscious relaxation and disassociation. Other options include an oral sedative in the form of a pill, which produces similar results to laughing gas. In the case of surgery, or a very nervous patient, intravenous (IV) sedation may be administered, which keeps the patient awake but in a dream-like state.

What techniques do you know to calm a dental patient suffering from anxiety?



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