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Dental Team

Several members in dental team are required to help to make a dental office operation smooth, with adequate efficiency. A member of the dental team must be physically and mentally healthy. The scope of the duties of a dental office staff requires a person who can handle a crisis, work well with different types of people, become a team player on the dental team, and be willing to grow professionally. He or she must also be neat, reliable, well organized and well oriented.

The various important components of the dental team are as follows:

The dentist is the most important part of the dental team. He or she is the center of the dental office. The main responsibility of the dentist is to perform or directly oversee all dental procedures performed in the office. The dentist is ultimately responsible for every aspect of the office. At one time or another the dentist may be faced with an emergency situation. He or she must be able to act in a responsible manner and strive to maintain a calm atmosphere in the office and the dental team.

Anyone whose goal it is to practice dentistry quickly realizes the rigorous educational background required to earn such a degree. The prospective dentist of a dental team must first complete a five year graduate college programmer. Dentists in other countries usually have to pass similar boards. The new dentist, after completing the required education and training and passing the license eligibility requirements of the state or country in which he or she will practice, is qualified to perform the duties of general dentistry.

These functions may include procedures such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, root canals, dentures, and bridges. The general dentist who desires to expand on these functions may do so with continued education. A minimum of an additional 2-3 years of education and training is necessary for a dentist to specialize in a particular field of dentistry and to become a part of dental team.Some examples of dental specialists are endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, and so on.

The dental assistant is also an important part of the dental team. The assistant actually acts as the dentist’s “right hand” as he or she directly aids the dentist in performing various procedures. The assistant’s responsibilities include preparing the examination room for a procedure to be performed. He or she would then greet and seat the patient comfortably in the chair in preparation for the dentist’s arrival. A dental assistant must also familiar with radio graphic procedures and in many countries first need to pass a radiology examination in order to take dental X-rays, before joining the dental team. In this capacity, the assistant could take emergency X-rays or even a complete series of X-rays for dental diagnosis.

Once the dentist enters the dental office, the dental assistant should have the instruments and X-rays ready for the doctor. The assistant, as a part of dental team, will then sit chair side with the doctor and participate in performing ‘Tour-handed dentistry.” (Four-handed dentistry is described this way because the dentist uses two hands plus the assistant’s two hands—this equals four hands.) The chair side duties that a dental assistant may perform depend on the dental practice act laws of the country and state in which the dental office is located, though in many of the Asian and African countries, there is still no clear cut practice act law defining the duties of the Dental Assistants.

The assistant may also be responsible for handing the dentist whatever instruments and materials he or she may need. Once the patient is dismissed, the dental assistant will clean, disinfect, and sterilize the operator and instruments according to regulated standards. The assistant would then prepare the operatory for the next patient.

The education required to become a dental assistant to join dental team varies from country to country. The qualifications necessary were acquired in the past mainly through hands-on training. Basically, the assistant learned his or her responsibilities and duties via on-the-job training. Certainly there are advantages and disadvantages of this method. One foremost advantage is that the dentist can train the assistant to his or her own office’s needs and philosophies as per his dental team.

Another advantage for the assistant is that he or she will be earning a salary while being trained for a position. The overshadowing disadvantage, however, is in the shortcoming of education. The dental assistant in this scenario will learn techniques used by a particular dentist and dental office and its dental team. If, in the future, the assistant is interested in working for another dental office, the lack of a well-rounded education will prohibit him or her from being able to change jobs easily in the workforce.

A training program can prepare DSA to become part of the dental team to work more effectively, and to become invaluable to the dentist when performing chair side procedures. The assistant aids the dentist in completing procedures more quickly and efficiently, thus aiding in the comfort of the patient. The dental assistant is also the primary user of the dental team for the sterilization and infection- control practices.

In some offices, the dental assistant must function in many capacities. The dental office or the dental team in which he or she works may not employ a business manager, receptionist, or other members of a dental team. In such offices, the dental assistant assumes the front office to perform duties of a receptionist and business manager.

The business manager of a dental office or dental team represents the financial aspects of the office. It is the responsibility of this person to maintain all of the financial records of the office. Certainly, the person who holds this position must be someone whom the dentist can trust explicitly. The business manager in dental team has access to all of the data of the office with regard to collected income and outstanding debts.

The manager’s job duties in a dental team include making collections, insuring the payment of bills incurred, and the preparing staff payroll. The duties of the business manager do not end with money collected and spent in the office. He or she may also be involved in projections for the office. For example, the manager may be in charge of watching the production of the office and looking for new means of marketing the business to improve the “bottom line,” also known as the profit. If a business fails to earn a profit, it is difficult for the dentist to continue his or her practice.

Maintaining inventory is another task for which the manager may be responsible within the dental team. He or she may be in charge of maintaining the stock of both dental and office supplies for the business. The position of business manager does not necessarily require a formal education, However, it would be wise for the dentist to employ a manager who holds a background in basic accounting skills.

The manager must also possess excellent business and organizational skills. He or she must be able to recognize whether an office is profitable or struggling and how to correct any problems as a part of the dental team. A manager who has a sincere interest in the office will certainly be an asset to the dentist and will be able to run the office efficiently and effectively. Remember that the Dental Assistant of the Dental Hygienist may be the person who also perform the duties of the business manager and receptionist in small dental offices.

About Dr. Muna

Dr. Muna Taqi is a Dental surgeon from India who has more than 10 years of experience in the field of Oral & Maxillofacial surgery, Endodontics, & Pedodontics. She has worked in multinational medical corporates in Middle East and is also a consultant dental surgeon for many. She has authored many articles for medical journals & websites and is a consultant dental expert for Healthdrip.

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