What Dental Auxiliary Appreciation Week means to me



Commentary by Capt. Dana Burke
42nd Aeromedical-Dental Squadron


3/4/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Dental Auxiliary Appreciation Week. What does that mean to me or you? It holds several meanings to me.

I drive back to my days at Temple University School of Dentistry, and I think of all the things I was responsible for aside from learning how to be a good dentist and adapting to North Philadelphia. I wore several masks. I played the recruiter, and I would try to find the ideal patient who would suffice for all of my requirements to graduate. Well, as ideal as that would be, it most times did not happen.

I wrapped my up my instruments for sterilization after every appointment and then disinfected my operatory. I also walked every one of my patients to the business office (which was full of grumpy staff) to verify insurance, and if the patient did not have insurance, I took them to the cashier to pay before the procedure started. I did not receive credit for what I completed on the patient until insurance had paid or until the patient paid out of pocket.

I spent many hours outside of school in the lab and at home in the evenings, faithfully waxing up crowns or dentures. I casted my own crowns, and if there was a perforation in the crown after casting, then it was back to square one. I was also the secretary calling my patients at the end of every long day to confirm for the next days' adventures.

I have been here almost three years at Maxwell dental clinic, and I must say I had a warm welcome from a hard-working team of individuals, both civilian and active duty. I really did not know what to expect when I came into the military; I was thankful and relieved that I didn't have to relive the dental school days again.
 
These individuals are like utility players in a baseball or softball game. Any one person in this clinic can go from one duty -- such as sterilizing instruments, manning the front desk, or cleaning teeth -- to sitting chair-side with the dentist and do a great job. These individuals are more than deserving of getting the first week of March in their honor.

I know I do not thank these individuals enough for all the hard work they put forth, and to be honest, words can't describe how thankful the Maxwell dentists really are.

These individuals have helped all of us grow and become great dentists, and on behalf of the Maxwell dentists, I want to publicly say thank you very much to every single dental assistant, prophy technician, lab technician, hygienist, and administrative worker for all your hard work and dedication.