Dental assistants work under the direction of dentists to greatly increase their efficiency in delivering the highest quality oral health care to patients.
As valuable members of the dental care team, dental assistants have some of the most comprehensive and varied duties in the dental office, ranging from direct patient care to recordkeeping.
Depending on the state where they are licensed, dental assistants may also be responsible for performing the application of fluoride, sealants, and topical anesthetics in medical procedures.
Daily Duties for a Dental Assistant:
- Preparing patients for treatments and procedures to ensure comfort
- Gathering information from patients on their medical and dental history
- Sterilizing or cleaning dental instruments
- Organizing the instruments and materials in the work area
- Handing the dentist instruments during medical procedures
- Educating patients on proper oral care following surgery
- Processing x-rays and completing laboratory tasks under supervision
- Maintaining detailed patient records of dental treatments
- Scheduling appointments and working with patients on payment
Dental Assistant Job Description
What do dental assistants do? Since dental assistants provide direct patient care in all dental specialties from orthodontics to periodontics and oral surgery, they almost always work in dentists’ offices under the direct supervision of dentists or other oral healthcare professionals. Dental assistants may find employment in solo dental practices, group practices, specialty practices, public health dentistry, or hospital dental clinics. Some may also work for insurance companies to process dental insurance claims or vocational schools teaching others to be dental assistants.
Most dental assistants work full-time during normal business hours, but some may be required to work part-time with evening or weekend hours depending on their office. On a daily basis, dental assistants work closely with dentists, dental hygienists, oral health surgeons, dental office staff, and patients. Due to the nature of their job, dental assistants must wear safety glasses, protective clothing, gloves, and surgical masks to prevent the spread of infectious disease.
Skills Needed to Be a Dental Assistant
While some dental assistants receive a high school diploma with on-the-job training, many others receive a certificate or associate’s degree from a vocational school or community college. They must possess comprehensive knowledge in biology, chemistry, human anatomy, dental terminology, oral healthcare, and recordkeeping to keep the dental office running efficiently.
Dental assistants should have strong interpersonal skills for communicating with patients on their needs, listening skills to follow directions from dentists, and organization skills to have the correct tools in place for the dentist when treating a patient.