KOMET Korner Q&A with Tina M. Calloway, CDA, for June 2010 DAD

In this month's KOMET Korner, Tina M. Calloway, CDA, answers your questions on how you can increase your restorative duties by influencing your state boards, how you can become familiar with using CAD/CAM technology, and how to properly polish restorations.

This month, KOMET Korner welcomes back our friend and colleague, Tina M. Calloway, CDA. Tina answers your questions on how you can increase your restorative duties by influencing your state boards, how you can become familiar with using CAD/CAM technology, and how to properly polish restorations. Dental Assisting Digest™ wants to know what’s on your mind. If you have something you want to ask the KOMET USA esteemed panel of assistants, please e-mail your questions to kevinh@pennwell.com. Your continued success is important to your office’s success.

DAD: I read that 11 states currently allow assistants to place both composite and amalgam in patients. I live in a state that does not allow us to perform restorative duties. With the way the profession is changing, why do so many states limit our abilities, and what can I do to change the laws in my state?

Calloway: It’s exciting to hear that dental assisting is gradually evolving in its duties; however, we must keep in mind that assistants have come a long way in a short period of time. As for the state legislation and policies, these are not always easy to change. There are several channels/committees in our state dental boards (similar to state governments) that must be traversed before changes are agreed upon. Being in this position is not an easy task because it does involve dental politics. Though it may seem easy to pass new legislation, each state must consider the accountability of each dentist in providing updated education for the clinical assistant. The question is, “Are dentists willing to be responsible for a procedure that is irreversible?” Tracking this education is critical in keeping up with quality care. I share your sentiments and would like to see all states be uniform. This way there could be no question as to what our clinical assisting duties are in different areas of the country. To help influence change, I encourage you to become involved with the national and state dental assisting organizations. Volunteer to become a part of the board and learn what the politics of dentistry are about, and how you can help be a voice for clinical assisting, both state and nationwide.

DAD: My dentist recently purchased a CAD/CAM machine, and he wants me to take all the necessary courses that go along with it. He wants me trained so it will free him to perform other procedures. Do you think this is a good idea, and what do you think is the most important thing for me to learn about using a CAD/CAM?

Calloway: CAD/CAM dentistry is one of dentistry’s greatest innovations. If your dentist is willing to help you grow your clinical assisting skills, this shows he is confident that you can contribute to the practice. How your dentist wants to incorporate CAD/CAM will help determine what you need to learn. CAD/CAM dentistry has many facets, and if you could learn all of them, your knowledge for this technology would be one of your greatest contributions to the practice. But trying to learn it all at once can be overwhelming. I recommend learning CAD/CAM through certified instructors who hold courses in your area and who are committed to teaching team members how to use CAD/CAM dentistry to its fullest potential.

DAD: Do you have any tips or tricks on how to polish a restoration in order to increase its longevity?

Calloway: There are so many restorative materials in the field. It is important to research the best polishing technique for the products you use. Your local representative should be able to direct you toward the right polishing technique for a specific restorative product; however, sometimes you may find that you have to conduct further research by calling the manufacturer for an answer. When using a hybrid composite, I use KOMET’s Composite Polishing System because it is comprised of several disposable polishers designed for creating smooth and natural-looking composite restorations.

About Tina M. Calloway, CDA
Calloway is a Texas native who served in the Navy in 1992 and received her dental assisting training in Marietta, Ga. Now living in North Carolina, she has worked in dentistry for 14 years as a full-time dental assistant, is the past president of the Piedmont Dental Assistant Society, and is currently a clinical assisting consultant. Calloway is a member of the North Carolina Dental Assistant Association and the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). She is also an award-winning graduate of the Dale Carnegie Organization, and an advisory board member of Dental Assisting Digest™ and Inside Dental Assisting magazines, with several published articles. Calloway is a regular KOMET Korner participant in Dental Assisting Digest™ and, in conjunction with KOMET, helped develop the Tina Calloway PRO-Visional Kit TD2103A.104, the first bur kit from KOMET designed for dental assistants by a dental assistant to work on provisional temporaries. She was named by Dental Products Report as One of Five People to Watch in 2010. She is a member of the Speaking Consulting Network and the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Team Advisory Council. She has also been a guest lecturer at the Thomas P. Hinman Meeting, the Holiday Dental Conference, the University of North Carolina, School of Dentistry, and PennWell’s Professional Dental Assisting Conference.

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