When we go to our dentist’s office, most of us understand the roles the dentist, dental hygienist, and dental assistant play, but there is also one more member of the team whose skill set enhances the dental team’s ability to help their patients. The Expanded Function Dental Assistant, or EFDA, places fillings, fits dentures, applies fluoride and sealants, and polishes teeth to complete a dental cleaning. By performing these essential services, the EFDA frees the dentist and hygienist to move on to additional patients, ensuring great care for more patients each day while keeping costs under control. A great EFDA contributes to a pleasant dental visit for the patient. That can be especially important with little patients, who learn to feel safe or afraid at the dentist’s office in their early years.
At ChesPenn’s Center for Family Health at Eastside, EFDA Ethiopia Demisse makes sure that patients both young and old enjoy their visit. Ethiopia takes time with each patient to explain each step of their procedure. She also enjoys educating patients during their visits. “When a patient comes in, I take time to answer all their questions and they love it.” Her warmth and reassuring personal style create an atmosphere of calm and safety.
Ethiopia began her dental career as a Dental Assistant in 2006. She and some friends later decided to train as EFDAS. Not long after getting her credential, she took her first job in a community health organization and a year later joined ChesPenn. She shared that she loves dentistry because she can see the benefit of her work immediately and because it makes such a difference in people’s lives. “I had a patient who came in for his final denture fitting. He cried when I handed him the mirror and hugged me.”
ChesPenn’s Dental Practice Manager Latonia McMillan shared that Eastside hasn’t always had an EFDA but now the dentists depend on her. “They’ve gotten used to her taking charge and taking care of the patients. And the patients come in looking for her. She’s definitely an asset to the department.”