Complaints Against Dental Assistants

Most Dental Assistants work hard to ensure the best quality treatment available to all patients. However, there are those who don’t live up to the expectations of the patient. The patient has the right to address this issue with the dental facility. If they do not feel their complaint has been properly handled, they can then file a complaint with the State Dental Board.

State Dental Boards are responsible for regulating dental practices. They work hard to protect the public against improper behaviors by Dental Assistants, Dental Hygienists, and Dentists. They are to thoroughly investigate all complaints filed that involve competentcy. State Dental Boards do not handle complaints such as fee disputes, personality conflicts, rude behaviors, or difficulty with scheduling appointments in a timely manner. Such issues are to be referred to the Better Business Bureau.

It is important to file a complaint with the State Dental Board as soon as possible to allow then to be of the most help. Most states allow you to file your complaint online, over the phone, or you can request a form be sent to you in the mail. Some states will only accept a complaint in writing.

Dental Assistants need to be aware of the process that patients can go through if they have a complaint. Dental Assistants need to be cooperative during the investigation. If a Dental Assistant feels a patient may file a complaint, it is important to write down as much information as possible. This information needs to include the patient’s name, date, time, and what took place. Also document any verbal interactions and who all was present to observe the incident. This information will be very useful to you and to the State Dental Board.

The Dental Board works hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. However, it will not rush the efforts to investigate it properly. Some complaints are resolved in a matter of days while others linger for years. Once a complaint has been filed, a copy of it is sent to the dental facility for a response. Generally, the dental facility is given a specific time frame to have their response back to the State Dental Board.

Once the response is received and reviewed, the Dental Board will compare the information to that on the complaint. From there, a course of action will be mapped out. This generally involved conducting interviews of all parties present during the incident. A panel is set up to investigate if any dental laws were violated. If there appears to be a violation, a hearing will be scheduled. The Dental Assistant will be notified as well as required to show up for the hearing.

If the Dental Assistant is found to be in violation of dental laws, the Dental Board will issue a reprimand. This will depend on the state guidelines as well as the violation. Reprimands may include a letter of apology, suspension, probation, or even revocation of the Dental Assistant’s license. The Dental Board is not allowed to require monetary compensation. If the person filing the complaint want to be compensated in that manner, they will need to file a civil suit with their local judicial system.

Dental Assistants who find themselves in the middle of a complaint issue with the Dental Board are likely to experience anxiety and fear. Many dental facilities will provide the individual with counseling as well as legal consultation. In most cases, it will depend on the issue the Dental Board is investigating. If the dental facility backs the Dental Assistant they will do all they can. However, if they feel the Dental Assistant is in violation of dental regulations they may terminate the individual, leaving them to pay for their own defense.

It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant to follow all policies and procedures correctly. If you have any doubt, take the time to have everything explained to you. Losing a complaint under the Dental Board can cost you your job, as well as your career. If you lose your license, you may find it difficult to obtain another job in the profession as a Dental Assistant. Making sure you follow policies and procedures will ensure that you have a good chance of winning such complaints upon a complete review and investigation by the Dental Board.

Certified Dental Assistant Requirements

Completing a Dental Assistant program can be the opportunity to explore a wonderful career in the field of dentistry. While most states don’t require licensing, obtaining your certification as a Dental Assistant will give you and edge over the competition. This will allow you to have a wide selection of employment opportunities to choose from. Most Dental Assistants with a certificate find that they are paid more for their work than those Dental Assistants who have not obtained licensing.

The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. set the standards for the Certified Dental Assistant, known as CDA. The CDA exam is composed of three parts. The General Chairside is a written test composed of 120 multiple choice questions. The questions are based on basic Dental Assistant fundamentals. The Infection Control segment is also a written portion. It is composed of 100 multiple choice questions relating to information on various diseases, the risks, and prevention methods. The last portion of the exam is the Health and Safety portion. This is a 100 question multiple choice section that is basically common sense related. Some Nursing Assistants choose to take the Certified Dental Assistant portion as well. This is a 210 question multiple choice section.

To prepare for the CDA, review your text book and notes from your Dental Assistant program. It is a good idea to purchase a CDA study guide. You can form a study group with other students who will be taking the CDA exam. The internet also has many free practice tests available. The exam is given in either a written form or computerized form. Nursing Assistant can choose the method they are most comfortable with.

To ensure you do the best possible on the CDA test, consider scheduling it immediately after you have completed your Dental Assistant Program. This is a great time to do it because all of the information is still fresh in your mind. You are also still in learning mode, so you should not suffer too much from test anxiety. Those who test right after completing their Dental Assistant program score better on the test. The longer you wait, they lower your score is likely to be. It is also less likely you will take the test once you have secured employment as a Dental Assistant.

In some states, Dental Assistants who have obtained the certification can perform various dental procedures. This definitely makes you a greater asset to the dental facility you work for if your state offers this statute. This will also encourage employers in these states to hire you over other Dental Assistants who are not certified. You will be worth more to the employer, so you will likely be offered more pay and better benefits.

For Dental Assistants, the decision to take the CDA is theirs to make. Since licensing is not a requirement, then many choose not to go through the test of taking another exam. However, there is nothing to lose because if you don’t pass the test you are still qualified to be a Dental Assistant upon completion of your program. However, the benefits of having an edge over the competition as well as the additional pay for the same type of work are encouraging to proceed with taking the CDA.

CDA exams vary in cost by state. They are generally held monthly. You can obtain a schedule of CDA exams from your program instructor, your State Dental Board, or from The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. They can also refer you to the best materials to study for the CDA test based on the requirements of your state.

Dental Assistant Pay

Becoming a Dental Assistant not only prepares you for a wonderful career working in the dental field, is also pays very well. Since this area of employment is anticipated to be one of the most in demand over the next six years, your chances of securing a great job with great pay and benefits is very likely.

The Median hourly rate of pay for Dental Assistants is $13.62. This is well above the minimum wage established in most states. In addition to a great hourly wage, many Dental Assistants will receive bonuses if the dental office is doing well, health insurance, and discounted dental procedures. Almost all Dental Assistants receive paid vacation days, sick days, and paid Holidays.

However, earning such a high hourly wage comes with a great level of responsibility. Dental Assistants perform duties relating to patient care, office sanitation, lab duties, and assisting the dentist and hygienist with a variety of procedures. Dental Assistants need to be alert, pay attention to detail, and have effective communication skills. They must also be able to provide patients with comfort measures both before and after procedures are completed.

Dental Assistants are easily confused with Dental Hygienists. Compared to hygienists, who have a median rate of pay of $23.65 per hour, a Dental Assistant is not making a very good hourly wage. However, they are very different professions. A Dental Assistant does just that, assists the dentist and hygienist with providing the best quality care for all patients. A hygienist takes care of cleaning teeth and generally has a steady stream of patients who come in every six months for routine cleaning procedures.

The amount of pay a Dental Assistant earns depends on many factors. The cost of living in your area will be the greatest influence. The amount of revenue the dental office you work for generates will also be a deciding factor. New dentists might have to pay less than established dentists will clientele because they don’t have the traffic coming into the office. However, it is very possible your pay will increase as more patients are drawn to that dental office.

Your level of experience will also be a consideration. You may have to accept a position that pays less than average to get your foot in the door and gain some hands on experience. However, with the demand for Dental Assistants, you should have no problem securing employment. Many dental offices want to keep quality Dental Assistants. They may offer to start you at a lower entry level pay, with the understanding that your performance will be reviewed in 90 days or other time frame. Based on your performance, you pay will be adjusted at that time.

It is important to understand that certified and uncertified Dental Assistants complete the same types of tasks. However, those who are certified earn several dollars more per hour than those who aren’t certified. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to take the certification exam early on in your career as a Dental Assistant.

Avoid Burnout as a Dental Assistant

Having a career as a Dental Assistant can be very rewarding. It can also be stressful and overwhelming at times. Working with people can get the best of us from time to time. Being a Dental Assistant requires ongoing dedication and energy. If you find yourself becoming physically and emotionally drained due to your work responsibilities as a Dental Assistant, you may be on your way to experiencing a burnout.

Often, stress and burnout are confused. Stress is also the result of the work environment. However, it is the result of periodic issues and complications in the work place. It might be having a bad day now and then. Burnout is a constant, ongoing feeling of not being adequate in your job on a daily basis. You may not longer take pride or interest in your position as a Dental Assistant.

Burnout results in feelings of hopelessness and resentment. If left untreated, it can escalate to depression. Dental Assistants who experience burnout often feel unappreciated, overworked, feel they have too much to accomplish in limited time, and begin to resent their level of responsibility. Placing unrealistic expectations on yourself is also a factor in burnout.

Burnout generally runs in stages. You go from feeling excited about your job as a Dental Assistant to forcing yourself to go to work each morning. Most people aren’t even sure what is wrong at this point. However, you will begin to experience exhaustion that leads to irritability. Burnout often has symptoms including headaches, changes in appetite, and high blood pressure. During phases of burnout, your relationships both outside of work and at work are going to suffer.

If you feel you may be suffering from burnout, talk with your supervisor. You can find support in your co-workers. You might consider attending a few counseling sessions to help you develop an action plan.

To avoid and eliminate burnout in the Dental Assistant field, you must meet your physical and emotional needs. Too often we spread ourselves too thin. We focus on the needs of out patients, our employer, and our family. While this is great, it is important to remember your own needs. Eventually not taking care of them will result in your inability to care for the needs of anyone else.

Meet your physical needs by having regular checkups, getting enough sleep, and eating right. Exercise is a very important part of feeling good physically. To keep yourself feeling good mentally, use your coping skills. Know what triggers your negative feelings and keep them in check. Keep realistic goals and demands on your body and your time. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do that day. Instead, focus on what you did accomplish. Learn to manage your time. It is OK to say know if you already feel over extended.

Focusing on your social needs is also important. Nurture your relationships with your spouse, children, and close friends. Stay involved in Church and community organizations that are of interest to you. If you are unhappy with your job as a Dental Assistant, talk to your employer about help to remedy the situation. Improving your communication skills with others will also improve your over all health.

Dental Assistants generally enjoy their career choice and put forth their best effort everyday. However, burnout is very common in the dental field. Knowing what causes burnout, they signs and symptoms, and effective ways to manage it will make you be able to focus on your job again. Improving your physical, mental, and social health will soon having you going to work with enthusiasm and a thirst for knowledge in the dental field soon. If your feelings don’t change, you will want to discuss the situation further. It may be depression that needs to be treated instead of burnout. Realistically, some Dental Assistants realize at this time they need a career change.

Areas of Employment for Dental Assistants

A career as a Dental Assistant will open many doors of opportunity. Dental Assistants will be among the highest growing occupations from now until 2012. This is because people are starting to take a better interest in their oral health. Technological advances have led many individuals to the dentist office for cosmetic dental procedures rather than just cleanings and major dental work. Also, people are living longer, so their teeth need more care to stay healthy throughout their life.

The most common place of employment to find Dental Assistants is in the dental office. Here they provide a variety of services. They often help to comfort scared patients prior to procedures as well as give them follow up care at the end of the appointment. Dental Assistants clean the tools used as well as make sure each work unit has the necessary tools and equipment ready for the next patient’s procedures.

Dental Assistants in the dental office work very closely with Dentists and Hygienists. They often sit in on all procedures, handing staff the necessary tools. Dentist offices are generally small so Dental Assistants often help with lab work. This includes making molds of teeth for caps, bridges, and other dental work. They may also be required to assist with the taking of X-rays.

A common place for Dental Assistants to be employed is in prisons. With more and more prisons being built all over the Nation, Dental Assistants are in great demand for Federal, State, and privately owned prisons. Working as a dental assistant in a prison setting requires more caution that in a regular dental office.

All Nursing Assistants need to be aware of the risk of communicable diseases that are transmitted via saliva and blood. However, the rate of these diseases, especially HIV, is much higher with a prison population than the general public. Also, some inmates might try to attack by biting.

Nursing Assistants in a prison setting need to be alert, and never let down their guard. Inmates often look for any opportunity to escape or obtain weapons. They can use a dental tool as a weapon against you, other staff, or other inmates. It is very important that you keep very close track of all dental tools in a prison setting. Never leave a tool in the reach of an inmate for even a moment. If you discover a tool is missing, immediately notify your supervisor and follow the procedures outlined in the prison policy.

For those Dental Assistants wanting to help the lower income populations, securing employment in a Child Development Center, Head Start, or Migrant program is an excellent way of giving back to the community. Often, these populations can’t afford dental care and would go without it if the services weren’t offered as part of a government program. Employment in these types of agencies as a Dental Assistant often pays less than other employment opportunities in the field. However, many Dental Assistants make the choice to help those in need rather than earn more money.

There are many opportunities to work as a Dental Assistant for agencies who serve the disabled. Often, Dental Assistants are afraid to work with such a population. However, once you feel comfortable with disabled people and their disabilities, you will be able to provide proper care to those who are in need, regardless of their mental capacity or physical appearance.

A career as a Dental Assistant offers you many areas of employment including dental offices, prisons, low income programs, and for facilities who serve the disabled. The ability to choose the type of environment you want to use your Dental Assistant skills in makes the field even more inviting. If you are not sure if a particular type of agency is a good fit for you, talk to them. Ask if you can shadow another Dental Assistant who works there for a few days. This should give you plenty of exposure to the activities that take place in that agency.

Dental Assistant Career Colleges

Now what you have decided to start looking into a career as a dental assistant you will want to consider your options for obtaining the education you need to go into your newly chosen field.

There are many options to consider when deciding to go into dental assisting as a career choice. Many city and state level colleges will offer programs to help you start as a dental assistant however one of the more popular methods for obtaining a dental assistant certification is through a vocational or career training school.

Some of the more popular dental training schools are Apollo College which can be found at www.ApolloCollege.edu, Concorde career colleges which can be found at www.Concorde.edu, and also another very popular school is Bryman college at www.Go2BrymanCollege.com

While you can expect to make good money as a dental assistant, some of the schooling to get you started will be an expense that you need to seriously consider and plan for.

During the research that we did when writing this article we found that on average dental assistant school vocational colleges ranged between $2500 and $6,000 to give you the certification that you need to get started right away. A few schools have all expenses included however others do have material fees of up to $2500 which will want to be considered when making your choice an educational institution.

A few schools such as American career colleges www.americancareer.info offer not only dental assistant educations but medical assistant, pharmaceutical, x-ray, and nursing educations all under one roof. One of these type schools might be a great choice for you if you’re not 100% sure that a career as a dental assistant is your final destination. By going to a college or career center that offers multiple medical field positions you will be putting yourself in a great position to see exactly what all of your options are when considering a career in the health industry.

A school such as this also would be a great place to continue your education after receiving your certification a dental assistant, to possibly move up to a dental hygiene position or even possibly continue your education in the future to become a dentist or possibly even an orthodontists.

Starting now and an industry that is growing as rapidly as the health care industry is in today’s world is a great way to insure you will have the skills necessary to maintain an excellent career in the health field.

With the skills you are about to learn as a dental assistant you’ll find jobs are not hard to find if you are skilled and professional at your newfound craft.

There’s a great sense of self-satisfaction to be had in knowing that you’re doing something that helps other people and improves the quality of life for many.

One area to consider if you like children is to specialize in dental practices that cater specifically to children. Specialized practices like this are a great way to carve yourself into a niche area of the market that is always guaranteed to be highly profitable and busy.

Working with children can be one of the most rewarding parts of a dental career and I highly recommend it as a specialty area for anyone considering a career in dentistry that also has a fondness of children.

So whether you’re deciding to go into dental assistant career college as just a stepping stone for a career as a dentist for orthodontist, or if working as a dental assistant is to be your final destination I want to say congratulations on your choice to look into the dental assistant field and may have much success in your endeavors.