Career Story: Dental Hygienist And Chief Dental Assistant

Dental Hygienist And Chief Dental Assistant

Job Title: Registered Dental Hygienist And Executive Assistant To The Owner Of The Practice.

Type of Company: I work at a large general dentist's office.

Education: BA, Business, Providence College (Providence, RI) •• AS, Science, Northeastern University •• certificate, Dental Hygiene, Forsyth School for Dental Hygienists (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked in accounting and as a controller's assistant before deciding to go into dentistry. Since then I have worked in many different types of dental offices.

Job Tasks: I open the office up at least three days a week, checking messages, adjusting the schedule, printing daily schedules, starting the compressors, computers, x-ray machines and autoclave. After my first patient, when the rest of the staff arrives, we start with an office meeting to prepare for the day ahead and try to adjust to any problems in the schedule. I am mostly responsible for evaluating patients' dental health, cleaning their teeth, taking any necessary x-rays, charting the teeth in the computer, administering fluoride, and performing laser bacterial reduction, scaling and root planing. I serve up dollops of unwanted hygienic advice. I also do periodontal evaluations, scan x-rays into the computer and write the charts up. I also have to sterilize the operatory between patients and sterilize instruments and set up for my own patients.

In large cases I act as the doctor's photographer and I have recently become his executive assistant, with the added responsibility of helping him with his work outside the office: his volunteer work for several professional organizations, his testimony as an expert witness, and typing bills and drafting reports. When in the midst of all these other things I have occasional down time, I have to sharpen instruments, make referrals to specialists, answer phones, make molds, bleaching trays and sports guards and re-stock supplies.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: I love working with patients and getting to know them. I love when I can help a patient improve his health. I hate having a tight schedule that makes me rush my time with my patients.

Job Tips: You need to be a people person who enjoys helping. You can't be afraid of blood. You need to know that you are responsible for cleaning up for yourself and not expect others to do the dirty work for you (the way the dentist does). If you can, shadow a dental hygienist for several hours or days, see what is involved, ask questions no matter how stupid they may sound, and enjoy!

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