The Role of the Dental Team
Dentists and the dental team are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. In fact, anyone can make a report of suspected cased of abuse or neglect. The whole dental team should be aware of the increased incidences of abuse and know the indicators to watch for.
Multiple studies have confirmed that more than 50% and up to 75% of child abuse involved trauma to the mouth, face or head. As well, while abuse parents may not go to the same doctor (fearing the doctor will recognize the abuse), abusive parents do often tend to return to the same dentists.
The percentage of dentists who file reports of suspected child abuse or neglect is small. Data shows the majority of reports come from teachers, social workers, and permissive reporters (individuals who report out of concern for the child).
It is the responsibility of the whole dental team to watch for the indicators and to document anything they suspect to be abuse. Make sure the documents are dated, clearly written, and are precise documentation on location, findings, colors, types of indicators, behavioral indicators and if the patient had any explanations as to what happened.
Documentation is key to follow up on repeat cases and to have proof if a case would come to court.
A registered dental assistant (RDA) is an integral member of a multidisciplinary health care team. The registered dental assistant may assist a dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist, or may work independently to carry out traditional chairside/clinical duties and business procedures. The RDA may work in a private dental office, a community health program, a business setting or an educational institution. Dental assisting education includes five main areas: clinical assisting, patient education, intra-oral preventative services, intra-oral restorative services and business administration. To be eligible to practice legally in Saskatchewan, registration and licensing is mandatory with the Saskatchewan Dental Assistants’ Association.
The registered dental assistant provides only those services for which they have been trained or assessed through a formal education program and which are within the scope of practice as designated by the regulatory body. The RDA is ethically bound to apply the principles of accepted current dental practice in the delivery of dental health services.
As a member of the dental health team, RDAs assist in four-handed dentistry, take x-rays, take impressions, sterilize and provide preventive services. They also work as receptionists and office managers.
As a regulatory authority, the SDAA has the mandate to investigate complaints relative to dental assistants. In order for a complaint to proceed, the complainant must be prepared to sign a written complaint. Please contact the SDAA office for complaint forms.
Saskatchewan Dental Assistants’ Association
307-845 Broad St
Regina SK S4R 8G9