KOMET Korner Q&A with Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA, CDD

July 20, 2010
KOMET Korner welcomes Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA, CDD. This month, Shannon explains the role of an EFDA, what types of materials an assistant should be familiar with, how to make adjustments to provisionals at chairside, and what kind of adjustments an assistant can make to CAD/CAM restorations.

KOMET Korner is honored to welcome a new member to the KOMET family. Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA, CDD, is truly a leader in the world of dental assisting. Shannon is more than just a dental assistant — she’s an advocate, speaker, and consultant who travels nationally and internationally. She presents a variety of seminars and clinical programs, and a seat in one of her courses is hard to come by. This month, Shannon takes a few minutes to answer your KOMET Korner questions. She explains the role of an EFDA, what types of materials an assistant should be familiar with, how to make adjustments to provisionals at chairside, and what kind of adjustments an assistant can make to CAD/CAM restorations.

Because state dental practice acts, rules and regulations, and titles for dental assistants vary greatly from state to state, Dental Assisting Digest recommends that you contact your state dental board to verify the duties and requirements, and any related career ladder, for dental assistants. You can conduct an internet search for your state dental board’s website, or you can go to the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB’s) website (www.danb.org) and click on State Specific Information to see what is allowed and required for dental assistants in your state. DANB’s website also provides a link directly to your state dental board.

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 them to [email protected]. Your continued success is important to your office’s success.

DAD: Please explain the role of Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDA), and is this something assistants should seek?

Pace Brinker: Some states recognize a higher level of dental assistant, which goes by different titles, most commonly, the Expanded Functions Dental Assistant, or EFDA. The duties that states allow to be delegated to qualified EFDAs vary greatly by state. Check with your state dental board to see what is legal in your state. Some states allow EFDAs to place, condense, and carve all classes of amalgams and composites after a dentist prepares a tooth. If your state allows the EFDA or advanced level of dental assistant to perform these duties, you should strive for this higher level professional designation or credential, because it will make assisting more than a job. Dental assisting could become your career, meaning more responsibility and a better chance for advancement.

DAD: If an assistant chooses to become an EFDA, what types of materials/instruments should that assistant become familiar with?

Pace Brinker: Direct bonding is a very technical procedure. In my career, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some of the most influential dentists in the industry, such as Drs. Ron Jackson, Robert Lowe, Buddy Mopper, and Ross Nash. I’ve also had the honor of attending several courses to improve my clinical proficiency. Although each dentist provided a different perspective, the one common denominator each of them shared was, “You must finish and polish each restoration to give it longevity.” Polishing a restoration has everything to do with using quality rotary instruments such as those by KOMET. When I worked with Dr. Nash, I observed patients who came back to the office to have their bonding replaced approximately nine years later and still looking fabulous. I remember Dr. Nash telling me, “It’s not only the choice in composites; it’s also the polishing technique.”

DAD: In some states, qualified dental assistants can make provisionals. There have been numerous articles published explaining different techniques. How is it different for assistants to make adjustments chairside?

Pace Brinker: In order to guarantee successful provisional placement, it is recommended that dentists use quality rotary instruments, such as KOMET instruments, for all of their preparations. Perfectly prepared teeth will make both of your jobs a lot easier in the long run; however, it’s not uncommon for assistants to make some provisional adjustments chairside. There is a silver lining to fabricating and trimming provisionals in front of your patients — it leads to more patient interaction. Having rotary instruments designed to assist with provisionals allows me to accomplish one of my goals, and that’s to establish a relationship with my patients. Using the right materials and instruments allows me to have valuable one-on-one time with them, because the better the rotary instrument, the better the provisional will fit in a patient’s mouth. I want to finish the restoration in one sitting. In addition, I never want to leave my patients alone while I’m trimming their provisional at the chair. I use this valuable time to discuss home care tips and their follow-up appointment.

DAD: More and more assistants, along with their dentists, are learning the benefits of CAD/CAM technology. Why should assistants be trained in using this technology, and what kind of adjustment can an assistant make using rotary instruments after the restoration has been milled?

Pace Brinker: I have been involved with CEREC (Sirona Dental Systems) and E4D (D4D Technologies) for about 10 years. Using CAD/CAM technology in our practice has allowed me to improve my skills as an assistant and to provide a tremendous amount of value for the office. When I am fabricating a restoration and defining and polishing with my CAD/CAM Bur Block from KOMET USA, I’m performing all the techniques that make me feel like I am truly making a difference in the field of dentistry, as well as in the patient’s experience.

Editor's Note: This article first appeared in KOMET USA’s Summer 2010 sales brochure.

About Shannon Pace Brinker, CDA, CDD
Shannon is a 1994 graduate of the Dental Assisting Program at Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston, N.C. She has lectured both nationally and internationally, and is a published author. Shannon has been a full-time practicing dental assistant for more than 20 years and currently works with Dr. Daniel Etheridge in his private practice in Chesapeake, Va. She is the past president of the Metrolina Dental Assistants Society in Charlotte, N.C., and is currently on the advisory board for the dental assistant program at Central Piedmont Community College. Shannon is an instructor at the Dawson Academy in St. Petersburg, Fla., providing lectures, in-office training, and hands-on courses. Shannon is the first auxiliary member to be voted to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry’s Board of Directors, and also serves as a board member for its new member committee. She is on the editorial board for The Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, is the former co-editor-in-chief of REALITY Publication and TEAM ‘aRTie’, and former editor-in-chief of Contemporary Dental Assisting and Inside Dental Assisting. Shannon is a member of the E4D Clinical Operations Operators group, and has provided extensive input for the certified dental designer (CDD) certification. Shannon was selected as one of the “Leaders in Continuing Education” for 2010 in Dentistry Today. She is currently the owner of Contemporary Product Solutions, an online product publication for the dental team and a consultant to many dental manufacturers. For more information, visit www.shannonpace.com.