Open wide – Dental Assistant students see Orthodontist in action
Dental Assisting students spend a lot of lab time working on each other to perfect their dental skills and techniques. But there is nothing quite like watching a dental professional work on real patients to open their minds to the intricacies of a thriving dental practice.
Temecula’s Dental Assisting students got that chance recently when they spent three hours observing Dr. Michael Fillman, a local orthodontist.
“Our Dental Assisting students have to do observations in an orthodontist’s office as part of their ‘ortho’ course,” says Dental Assisting Program Director, Cindy Ovard. “It enables students to see exactly what happens in a busy office, where a specialist might see a patient every 15 minutes, instead of a practicing dentist’s 10 patients a day.”
Most follow-up appointments, after the initial installation of braces, entail a quick adjustment to tighten braces and a brief patient experience update, so it is an easy in-and-out.
Orthodontics is a specialty that deals with straightening teeth through the application of metal or ceramic braces. Although most people may think children are the patients primarily fitted for braces, many adults decide on braces to correct lifelong imperfections or to correct encroaching teeth.
“The students were able to take impressions, take X-rays on patients, and ask many questions related to orthodontics,” says Ovard. “They were able to make observations and ask questions and interact one-on-one with the doctor.”
“I was surprised with how familiar the office is with each patient,” says Annmarie Galindo, Dental Assisting student. “Even though it is a quick appointment for the patient, the staff really takes time to get to know their patients.”
“These visits are not like students watching a video,” says Cindy. “Doctors stop and explain what they are doing and answer questions.” It is a very interactive experience.
Students also get to see how the doctors and assistants work hand-in-hand. SJVC Dental Assisting students are preparing to become an important part of that professional team.
“I got to see what a real orthodontic office is like and realized that orthodontics is a good way to get to know your patients,” says Ashley Morales, Dental Assisting student.
Dental Assisting instructor, Tina Butler accompanied the students to the Orthodontic office. “It was an enjoyable morning and really opened their eyes to a fast-paced orthodontic office.”
“Metal Mouth” has taken a whole new meaning for some Dental Assisting students, as they consider orthodontics a viable career path. “I realized orthodontics is a specialty I’m interested in,” says Dental Assisting student Megan Steele.
Close observation often triggers a firm career commitment and a renewed focus on education.
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