Going to the dentist is common for most people, and takes place twice a year for the average person. There are also those people who visit the dentist for tooth removal from tooth decay, or those getting braces to straighten out their teeth. Regardless of why a patient is seeing the dentist, the dentist or dental assistants might make mistakes. These can be avoided if the team members are properly educated. In this article I will take a look at the top nine mistakes of dental assistants that can easily be avoided. Let’s get started!
Every dental practice wants to keep patients happy when they come in for their appointments. Also, every dental practice wants to be protected from malpractice:
- Sterilization – All tools used should be properly sterilized. Mistakes include improper use of the autoclave, a sterilizer malfunction, countertops not properly sterilized, or reusing a tool that may have been coated in blood or saliva.
- Performing unnecessary services – Patients are often open to your advice, whether it’s about a routine cleaning or having their braces fixed. If a patient hasn’t asked for a specific service and the dental assistant performs that service anyway, this can lead to unwanted trouble.
- Negligent operation – If a procedure is done wrong, this can lead to trouble for the dentist and staff. If you don’t know how to perform the steps for a particular procedure, it's best to have someone else perform this task.
- Follow the charts – It’s important not to alter your charts. You want to keep a patient’s chart as clear as possible, with the original notes typed in. It is also important to have treatment notes in line with the set appointments.
- Spend the time – Take a few minutes to update your personal notes, and to update the patient’s chart later on.
- Updating patient status – It’s important to keep patients’ medical history up to date when they come in.
- Use the dental lab – If it’s difficult for you to make a crown or bridge, it’s best to let the professionals at the lab take care of it.
- Follow-up calls – It’s important to have follow-up calls with your patients, especially if the patients underwent surgery. This shows that the dental practice cares.
We all know that when someone visits their dentist, they expect good service. It’s important to avoid any mistakes made by dental assistants so that assistants and the rest of the team can provide a happy patient experience now and in the future.
*To learn what dental assisting duties are allowed and prohibited in your state — and the education, exam, and certification requirements to perform these duties — visit DANB’s Meet State Requirements page or check with your state dental board.