Dental Assistants need to make sure they fully understand the risk of communicable diseases. A communicable disease is one that is transmitted by saliva, blood, and other bodily fluids. Dental Assistants are at a very high risk because their hands come into contact with patient’s mouths all day long. This exposes them to saliva and often blood. While patients are asked to disclose information about communicable diseases including HIV, many choose not to. Some communicable diseases such as herpes form sores in the mouth and Dental Assistants need to be able to identify them. A Dental Assistant should assume every patient is contagious and take all precautions against infection.
Dental Assistants should always were gloves while working with patients. Even if they are only observing the procedure. This is because you never know what a normal procedure will turn into a crisis. The Dental Assistant will have to be able to jump in and assist at a moments notice. There is no time to stop to put on gloves, and it is not accepted in the dental field to perform any type of procedure without them.
If you feel that you have poked a hole in a glove, immediately throw it away and replace it. Do not take any chances. Communicable diseases can make you ill as the least or result in death at the other extreme. Since open sores are the most common way for communicable diseases to enter your body, make sure any such sore is completely covered with a bandage, band aid, or other covering that won’t come off with your gloves. Keep the sores covered until they have healed completely.
Another valuable way to prevent communicable diseases is to follow all safety procedures as outlined by the employer. If you are unclear, ask. Never take shortcuts, especially in the areas of sterilizing tools and the proper use of tools. This can lead to serious repercussions if other patients become infected with communicable diseases from dirty tools.
If you find that you have come into direct contact with saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids that could potentially lead to a communicable disease, wash the area immediately with soap and water. Many communicable diseases including the flu and the common cold can’t survive soap and water. You will also need to report the incident to your direct supervisor.
All dental facilities have policies and procedures in place for dealing with contact of saliva, blood, or other bodily fluids. It is important that you completely understand these policies and procedures from the first day of employment. Make sure you follow them completely if you do experience such contact. Most dental facilities will have the procedures written and in an easily accessible location for quick reference.
Working as a Dental Assistant is a fun and rewarding career choice. You will have the opportunity to work with many people and to learn more about the dental field. You will be required to perform a variety of duties as well as sit in on several types of dental procedures. It is important to remember that your safety is very important. Make sure you are aware of the risk of communicable diseases and follow all procedures for prevention as well as reporting if such contact does take place during your employment as a Dental Assistant.