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Dental Assistants working with Drug Users

Dental Assistants working with Drug Users
As a dental assistant, at some point, you are going to encounter many patients with very poor dental hygiene and that’s no cause to be an alarm. Just in the U.S alone, there are more than 10 million ordinary people who have some kind of dependency on alcohol or drug or both. Dental assistants are trained to recognize substance abuse very easily. You may encounter a situation when you have to tell both parents that their child has a dependency on drugs or alcohol and it’s affecting the child’s overall oral health. There are some common types of drugs that dental assistants see the most, this includes barbiturates, narcotics, and sedatives. Those are just the most common types.

Drugs can have a very serious effect on the health of the teeth, and gum areas. Some of that, of course, include fear, cravings for items that are high on sugar, infection from HIV and Hepatitis B, not brushing on a daily basis, periodontal mouth disease, painful gums, gingivitis, and anxiety, etc… From this just list above you can see the continuing effects that taking drugs can have on the patient’s overall oral health care; and how the teeth and the gum areas might get even worse if drug abuse persists.

There are some risks involve when working with drug users so dental assistants must be very careful. Usually the types of drugs the patient use will not be disclosed, so it is unknown the kind of behavior the patient may exhibit. There have been situations when the patient can become violent or have bad chemical reactions specifically when treated with the anesthetic.

As we all know drug users get use trickery to take advantage of dental assistants so here you might have to listen to your gut feeling as to the correct course of action. For example, you might have patients calling in or coming in with excessive teeth pain and their sole motivation is to get a prescription or free drugs to satisfy their addiction. Dental assistants need to be alert to these kinds of scenarios. Many times you might encounter such a person at closing time when there is not enough time to properly diagnose them. So be aware they might even want to make an appointment with you the next day but never show up because they’ve got what they needed.

There are resources available to dental assistants who want to promote drug treatment since the user of the drug is such a very common issue. The dental assistant and staff members of the dental office are normally well trained in that area of drug use, and how to interact with drug users. But it is your responsibility as a dental assistant to do further studies and educate yourself in areas such as these. Consult your employer if they have programs that promote drug treatment.

We have already established how the use of drugs on a regular basis can have an adverse effect on the patient’s overall oral health, and how it is the dental assistants’ job to protect themselves and the staff in general from possible communicable diseases. As a dental assistant, if a patient appears to be using the substance you need to approach the situation confidentially. You can help them by referring them to drug treatment facilities while following the guidelines of your employer that they have in place for a situation such as these.
Dental Assistants working with Drug Users Dental Assistants working with Drug Users Reviewed by swapee dee on February 11, 2020 Rating: 5
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