Interested in becoming a dental assistant? Have an interest in periodontics? By completing a dental assistant program at your local vocational school, you will be able to start getting experience to become a dental assistant at a periodontist’s office.
Learn about what periodontics is, what a periodontist does, and what a periodontal dental assistant does. Also learn how the dental assistant can promote healthy gums, support scaling and polishing, take impressions of the patient’s mouth, take X-rays and support the periodontal clinic.
What is Periodontics?
Periodontics is the treatment of diseases of the gum and structures supporting the teeth. It includes placing dental implants and other procedures. Dental assistants have a vital role in periodontal work and have specific skill sets to support the periodontal clinical team in a variety of ways.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
They are a dentist that specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, and the placement of dental implants, according to the Periodontists typically treat advanced gum disease or a patient with a complex medical history. The periodontist will examine the gums, identify if the gums are recessed, assess the teeth as they bite together, and check for loose teeth.
What Does a Periodontal Dental Assistant Do?
A dental assistant will assist the periodontist by using a periodontal pocket probe to measure the depth of the spaces of the gum line and teeth. They will work with patients to educate them on how to keep their gums healthy. The dental assistant will support the periodontist with scaling and polishing. They will help by taking impressions of the patient’s teeth for dental implants. The dental assistant can also help with X-rays to observe the health of the bone and below the gum line. They also support the dental office with light clerical, billing and scheduling of appointments.
Promoting Healthy Gums
One of the most important skills a dental assistant has in periodontics is to promote gum health. This includes showing patients how to clean their teeth effectively, ways to keep the gums healthy and free from inflammation, and how to floss and use mouth rinse. Health promotion also includes advice on alcohol intake, smoking, and sugar intake which can affect the gums. By helping patients stay healthy they will avoid extensive dental work. Gum disease can lead to other serious conditions such as heart disease and infections, so the role of a dental assistant in promoting healthy gums is a very important one in the periodontist’s office.
Supporting with Scaling and Polishing
The dental assistant will support the periodontist with scaling and root planning to clean the infected surface of the root. They will also help with root surface debridement to remove damaged tissue from the root. The dental assistant will also support the periodontist with minor oral surgery.
Dental assistants can support the hygienist with scaling and polishing treatments that are necessary to eradicate plaque from the mouth. The dental assistant helps the patient stay calm during treatments and procedures. Dental assistants can also perform some simple scaling and polishing treatments to assist the hygienist. The training they receive gives them the skills to work in a variety of areas.
One of the specific roles of a dental assistant is to take casts of the mouth so that implants can be created and fit properly to the patient’s mouth. This includes mixing the cast paste and giving the patient clear instructions on what to do when the plate is placed in the mouth. The dental assistant will instruct the patient to breath through the nose while staying as still as possible. Dental assistants must label the cast correctly and ensure it is sent to the laboratory where the implants will be made. They can also inform the patient about the next stages of treatment after impressions are taken of the patient’s mouth.
Dental assistants are trained to take uncomplicated X-rays of the mouth. They give patients instructions on how to properly hold the film in their mouths, positioning the machine to get the correct X-rays, and sending the films for development. The dental assistant will make safety a priority while taking the X-rays and check to see if the X-rays will cause any adverse effects with the patient’s medical condition. They will use lead pads to shield vital parts of the body in order to stop radiation. Dental assistants taking X-rays are responsible for labeling them correctly to avoid misdiagnosis.
Supporting the Clinic
Dental assistants are essential in the smooth running of a periodontal clinic or dental office. They ensure records are available and equipment is ready so that clinics and treatments run smoothly. Dental assistants follow up on results and cast impressions so that information is available for the patient’s next appointment. They create a calm environment so that anxious patients are reassured. Dental assistants support the dental team in a wide range of periodontal procedures so that time is used as efficiently as possible and the periodontist can focus on the more complex issues.
Dental assistants have an interesting role in periodontics as a specialty of dentistry. Their abilities to promote health and educate patients are invaluable, particularly in the prevention of gum disease. They have specialist skills as well, such as taking x rays, helping scale and polish, and take casts. This makes them an invaluable team member at a periodontist’s office.
Interested in learning more about working at a periodontist’s office? Are you ready to become a dental assistant? The Dental Assistant training program at Meridian College provides extensive hands-on training including a school externship at a dental office where you will assist the dentist in treating actual patients.
Contact Meridian College today to learn more about becoming a dental assistant.