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Schriever celebrates Dental Assistant Recognition Week

Team Schriever celebrates Dental Assistant Recognition Week in March. Dental assistants are a key part of the dental practice year-round, but they get a special week dedicated to them each year for all the great work they do. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Team Schriever celebrates Dental Assistant Recognition Week in March. Dental assistants are a key part of the dental practice year-round, but they get a special week dedicated to them each year for all the great work they do. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Dental Assistant Recognition Week is held the first week in March every year.  Dental assistants are a key part of the dental practice year-round, but they get a special week dedicated to them each year for all the great work they do.  Dentists in the United States and Canada have this week-long opportunity to celebrate and honor their dental assistants for the variety of duties they perform and for the quality dental care they enable. 

According to the dental assistant career field education and training plan, dental assistants "assist the dentist in the delivery of dental health care; select and arrange instruments, materials, and medicaments for use.  Retract tissues and maintain a clear operating field.  Perform oral prophylaxis; instruct patients in dental health maintenance.  Expose and process dental radiographs/images. Clean, sterilize dental instruments. Perform dental administrative duties, coordinate patient appointments and maintain dental health records, filing systems and publications." 

This definition, although thorough with regards to the daily tasks performed by a dental assistant, fails to capture what can arguably be the most important aspect of being a dental assistant - having compassion. 

Senior Airman Janee Tamayo, a Schriever clinic dental assistant, had the following answer when asked why she loves being a dental assistant: 

"If there's one thing I hear on an almost daily basis it's: 'I'm not a huge fan of being in the dental clinic,'" she said. "Many of our patients deal with anxiety when visiting the dental clinic; this is where the most challenging, and gratifying, facet of being a dental assistant comes into play.  It takes compassion, competence and consistency to make a patient's dental experience as comfortable as possible."

So when someone asks Tamayo what her job entails, she does not respond with the "textbook answer" because that's not the most important part of what she does.

"My job is to make you smile, and keep you smiling, and that's why I love being a dental assistant," she said.

Schriever Air Force Base thanks Tech. Sgt. Grace Yarlett, Tech. Sgt. Derek Ware, Staff Sgt. Ryan Tano, Tamayo, Senior Airman Megan Luscier and Airman Matthew Thomas for their service and compassion as Air Force dental assistants.
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