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Ask a dental assistant: DA concerned about how dentist handles extractions

Nov. 18, 2020
"Every time the dentist performs an extraction, at least one tooth ends up loose in the patient’s mouth or back of the throat," explains this dental assistant. How should she handle her concern?
This column, "Ask a dental assistant," is open to any assistants who have concerns. They can reach out to a fellow assistant for advice with their dilemma. How many of you can identify with this assistant's question? Send your questions to [email protected], and it will be forwarded to an assistant to answer.

QUESTION: I have been a dental assistant for nine years. I’ve been working with my current dentist for six months. My concern is that every time the dentist performs an extraction, at least one tooth ends up loose in the patient’s mouth or back of the throat. It really stresses me out when this happens. I offered to place a 2x2 in the mouth to prevent patients from aspirating the teeth, but the dentist’s response was that he doesn't want patients to aspirate the gauze. Also, the dentist insists that patients be in a supine position whether to extract, restore, take impressions, or take x-rays. What should I do?

ANSWER FROM TIJA HUNTER, CDA, EFDA, editor, Dental Assisting Digest:
This is a tricky situation for sure. In my almost 40 years in dentistry, I've worked with many doctors, and no two are alike! They each have their own way of doing things. 

The truth is, if this is how he likes to handle extractions, then you most likely won't be able to change him. If he feels confident in the way he performs extractions, then so be it.

Now, you have to decide if it is worth your stress to continue to work for him. Is this situation something you can allow to quit bothering you? Do you like working in the office? Take a deep breath and see if this is something you can let go of. If not, it's time to move on. It is simply not worth it for you to be so stressed out about it.

We welcome any question or concern. The important thing to remember is that you're not alone. Send it to [email protected]. To read past columns, visit dentistryiq.com and search for "Ask a dental assistant."