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ADAA president visits Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity.

The United States Army Dental Command (DENCOM) and The Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity recently hosted a visit from Cathy Roberts, President of the American Dental Assistants Association. Ms. Roberts was extended the invitation by the DENCOM Sergeant Major, Richard Orona in order to facilitate her understanding of the Army's innovative strategic initiatives.

On May 24th, Ms. Roberts gratefully accepted the challenge of "suiting up" in personal protective equipment at the Rhodes Dental Clinic where she exhibited her professional pride by assisting an expanded functions dental (EFDA) team during a routine dental appointment. An EFDA team is usually comprised of one dentist, two dental assistants and one expanded functions dental assistant. It is this unique blend of team dentistry that enables the military dental system to efficiently and effectively render much needed dental therapy to our nation's most precious resource, our sons and daughters. The Army Dental Care system has termed this use of team dentistry as Dental Care Optimization (DCO). It is a business practice that is funded at 14 dental clinic sites within the Army Dental Care System (ADCS). The additional funding is utilized to provide the necessary auxiliary staff required to ensure the success of the program. A functioning DCO team will utilize two or possibly three dental operatories, allowing maximum access to dental care for the beneficiary population served. The success of the DCO initiative is incumbent upon a cohesive, well trained and enthusiastic professional work force. Ms. Roberts certainly fit in very well with our established protocol.

The US Army Dental Care System (ADCS) trains qualified employees as expanded function dental assistants. Employees may submit applications and also be administered a chalk carving test in order to evaluate their manual dexterity. Their packets are reviewed by a board of ADCS personnel. The most qualified applicants are selected to attend training. During the 18-month training period, each applicant will develop skills necessary to assist in the provision of direct patient care. The training consists of didactic, direct supervision and clinical on the job training. Target terminal skills for the EFDA include: placement of direct restorations following restoration preparation by a dentist; provision of supragingival hygiene services for patients (ideally, diagnosed with periodontal screening and recording (PSR) scores of 0-2); and various other miscellaneous, reversible procedures in support of dental care. The entire course may extend to 30 months, depending upon the progress of the EFDA trainee. The course combines distance learning (DL), direct instruction from the Department of Dental Science, Army Medical Department Center and School, and close, individual mentorship by designated trainers in the clinical phase of training.

The EFDA training program exists to support the strategic initiative of Dental Care Optimization (DCO) by providing efficient and effective dental care. The role of the EFDA is limited and defined within the ADCS; it does not include the performance of irreversible procedures. The EFDA is utilized as an auxiliary oral health care provider under the supervision of a dentist, and engages in patient treatment only with the consent of the dentist, after completion of the examination, treatment plan, and risk assessment.

Ms. Roberts' spent almost two hours at Rhodes Dental Clinic. She not only assisted during a procedure, but also met with all of the staff. MSG Claudio Carrasco, the Fort Sam Houston Dental Activity Senior Dental NCO, accompanied Ms. Roberts and SGM Orona on their tour of the facility. Overall, the visit was a rousing success and will greatly enhance the relationship between the ADAA and the ADCS for years to come.

By SFC Katherine F. Carrasco, MS, RDH

DENCOM Operations Sergeant
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Title Annotation:The Army Goes Rolling Along ...
Author:Carrasco, Katherine F.
Publication:The Dental Assistant
Date:Jul 1, 2007
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