Saliva has a variety of key functions in our mouths. It helps us to taste and digest our foods, keeps our mouths comfortable, fights germs, and helps to prevent bad breath. Saliva can, however, become an inconvenience during dental procedures, as an excess of moisture can make it difficult for dentists to conduct routine procedures such as teeth cleaning, root canals, and composite and amalgam fillings for cavities. During these kinds of procedures, dentists need the area they are working on to be dry in order to operate effectively.
Dental assistants have an essential role in managing moisture within a dental client’s mouth. During a dental procedure, dental assistants work to perform suction and moisture-controlling techniques, enabling dentists and dental hygienists to focus on safely operating within the oral cavity. If you’re planning on attending dental assistant school, it’s important to become familiar with the different ways of controlling moisture within the client’s mouth.
There are three main methods of controlling moisture: rinsing, oral evacuation systems, and teeth isolation. Read on to find out more about each of these techniques.
A Certified Dental Assistant Can Control Moisture by Rinsing a Patient’s Mouth
Rinsing is a technique that can be useful in getting rid of excess debris within a client’s mouth during a variety of dental procedures. Rinsing not only keeps the mouth clear, but it helps to ensure that the client is comfortable throughout their time in the chair. During a pause in a dental procedure, professionals with a dental assisting training background may use limited-area rinsing, or rinsing in a specific area of the mouth, as a technique to allow a dentist to survey the area they are working on more thoroughly. After a longer procedure, dental assistants can apply a full-mouth rinsing technique to clear a client’s entire oral cavity of debris and restore a level of comfort within the mouth.
Each rinsing process is followed by the use of the air-water syringe. This syringe connects to the dental unit to deliver air or water to the client’s mouth. Dental assistants mitigate the amount of moisture in the mouth by directing this syringe to areas which need drying, and applying air to those regions. The use of this syringe helps dentists to focus on the procedure they are performing, such as filling a cavity, without worrying about moisture invading the site.
Oral Evacuation Systems Control the Flow of Debris
Oral evacuation systems remove debris and saliva from a client’s mouth via suction. There are two main oral evacuators that dental assistants use regularly. The first is a saliva ejector, which can remove fluids such as saliva and water. However, a saliva ejector cannot remove solid debris, as it doesn’t have enough power. Dental assistants may be required to operate a saliva ejector during fluoride treatments, prophylaxis, and sealant placement.
A certified dental assistant may also use a high-volume evacuator, which has more power than a saliva ejector, and can thus be used to remove debris as well as water, blood, and saliva. A high-volume evacuator can be used to move the client’s cheek or tongue away from the area of the dental procedure.
In Tooth Isolation, Barriers Prevent Moisture from Getting in the Way
Tooth isolation refers to the process of isolating one tooth or a group of teeth from the rest of the mouth. This technique is typically used in procedures that require that the teeth be kept completely dry, such as in a root canal. Isolation prevents the teeth from coming into contact with saliva or blood. There are three main methods of isolating teeth that dental assistants should be familiar with. The first is a dental dam, which is composed of a stretchy, rubber-like material. This material stretches around a clamp that has been placed over a tooth, and is stretched over a client’s mouth by a metal frame. The dental dam not only keeps the tooth dry, but protects the rest of the client’s mouth from any harmful debris that is often a byproduct of dental procedures.
Dental assistants may also use the dry-angle isolation technique, in which a triangular pad absorbs saliva and protects the mouth. When using this technique, dental assistants must make sure that the pad is never fully saturated, otherwise it will need replacing. Lastly, a more traditional method is cotton roll isolation, in which a roll of cotton is placed near a client’s salivary glands to soak up incoming saliva. This is the easiest moisture control method as the cotton balls are simple to place within the mouth, making the technique a preferred approach for a number of common dental procedures.
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