What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Are you considering a career in the dentistry? If you have strong communication skills, love to work with people, and prefer a true hands-on career, you may consider becoming a dental assistant.

Dental assistants play a vital role in the dentist’s office. They are relied on by the entire dental team – from hygienists to the top dentists – to ensure that all is running smoothly and that patients are comfortable throughout their visit. Whether sterilizing instruments, taking impressions, or helping out on a more complicated procedure, dental assistants greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist and the delivery of quality oral care. For this reason, dental assistants are often considered the backbone of office operations.

Dental assistants also play a very important role in the patient experience. A dental assistant is the first person patients will encounter when walking through the office doors. They are the professionals that prepare patients for exams or walk them through the X-ray process. They are the calming voices that answer unclarified questions after the dentist has gone. They help and encourage patients to create home treatment plans. For patients, assistants make those scary dentist appointments a little bit easier.

By now, you may be wondering, “But what does a dental assistant do?” This question does not come with a simple answer. Dental assistants perform many different tasks, ranging from recordkeeping to patient care to clinical duties in and out of the lab. To help you decide if dental assisting is the career path for you, our experts at Stone Academy have compiled a list of some of the many duties of a dental assistant. Let’s take a closer look.

Patient Care:

  • Greet patients as they come into the office
  • Prepare patients for dental exams, procedures, and treatments
  • Ensure that patients are comfortable throughout their visit
  • Educate patients about proper oral hygiene strategies
  • Instruct patients on aftercare following a procedure
  • Simplify and help patients understand any medical language, whether on their state of oral health or regarding any complicated procedures required

Clinical Work:

  • Sterilize dental instruments and prepare the exam room
  • Work with dental hygienist to keep patients’ mouths dry using suction during treatment
  • Hand equipment to dentist during procedures
  • Assist the dentist directly at chairside with operative, orthodontic, oral surgery and a wide range of other procedures
  • Take impressions of patients’ teeth for study casts
  • Take, develop, and process dental radiographs (X-Rays)
  • Complete lab tasks under the direction of a dentist
  • In some states, dental assistants may complete coronal polishing, sealant application, fluoride application, and topical anesthetic application

Administrative Duties:

  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Record patients’ medical histories and past dental treatments
  • Work with patients on billing, payment, and insurance claims
  • Order dental supplies
  • Perform other computer-related office management tasks

As you can see, dental assistants are of the most versatile members of a dental team. Because their workload is so wide-ranging, their day-to-day is never exactly the same. Each day brings new patients, new experiences, and new smiles to these workers. That is part of the beauty of working as a dental assistant—every day is a new adventure.

Dental assisting, like any healthcare career, is multi-dimensional. It requires assistants to be well-versed in the laboratory, on the computer, and with a diversity of people. If you want to become a dental assistant, you must possess clinical skills as well as administrative and intrapersonal skills. In dental assisting, compassion and customer service are equally valuable to medical or technical knowledge.

That is where education can help. The right dental assistant school can give you a comprehensive training in all general dentistry procedures as well as multiple dental specialties. In one year or less, you will develop a mastery of skills and knowledge of everything from endodontics to prosthodontics. Are you ready? Call Stone Academy at 800-585-1315 to learn about our flexible dental assistant program.