As a travel nurse, you expect the unexpected especially when one department has staffing issues or if your place of work demands more of that department. True to me experience here in the land full of sands, I was assigned to the Dental Department, a week after I got my hands dirty in the Emergency Department (E.D.).
I was not enthusiastic to work on my first day. I felt betrayed by my superiors. I felt the Queen Bee syndrome was attacking me.
In the Philippines, nurses were not taught or trained in Dental Department . Dentistry in the Philippines is a different field of education and practice. They have their own world, a spectrum different from nurses. But here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Filipino nurses are sought for their expertise in Dental Department.
Now, for a year and seven months that I have been exploring the world of dentistry as nurse, I got a few things to share.
Procedures Beyond Tooth Extraction and Teeth Whitening
I once thought, dentists work only to either remove your tooth or whiten your teeth. Yet as I as getting by at the Dental Department, I uncovered other procedures. There is more to the normal composite filling I asked from my dentist in the Philippines. Here in Saudi Arabia, root canal treatment is a normal thing to asked from your doctor. The treatment is where the dentist would open a tooth and remove the abscess inside after a patient who complained of severe pain and inability to sleep at night comes. There’s also the operculectomy for young adults who have inflamed flap of gums. Another is tooth implantation, where you can place a new artificial tooth on the space where your permanent tooth once was. I also assisted the cutting of ligaments (frenotomy) on the tongue.
Our dental department is known for excellent dental restoration or making of crown and bridges. The preparation of crown and bridges can become nasty and difficult when the patient has limited mouth opening, excessive blood, and gags every 30 seconds. As a nurse, you are tasked to make everything clean and/or sterile. You must suction the saliva or blood from the patient’s mouth, clean the patient’s facial area if there’s blood or any fluid, and prepare the impression trays once the dentist have finished drilling the tooth/ teeth. After the procedure you have to disinfect all used areas for the next patient, and give the impression trays to Dental Laboratory. Dentists will do the prescription or order for laboratory.
I am lucky if we only have two or three crown or bridge preparation for a day. But it’d be overwhelming for me and the dentist I am assisting when we have more than five patients, or when the patient wants both upper and lower bridge (that’s 12 or 14 teeth!).
Assisting General Dentists and OrthoDontist/ Periodontist
In our department, we have at least three general dentists and two orthodontist/ periodontist. General dentists are bound to execute simple tooth extractions, root canal treatment, and reconstructive procedures (making of crowns and tooth bridges). Periodontists and orthodontists works on special cases such as extraction of impacted molars, and tooth implantation. All of these dentists gave me insights and experiences in how the world of dentistry creates its magical importance. A bonus I got with them was the knowledge and understanding of the Arabic language since they’re Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian.
As far as my insights go, the place I am working works in a traditional setting. But luckily our management will incorporate change as the institution is bound to go digital. The dental department will get the hands- on first and as a nurse who’s been with the digital world, I am looking forward to it.