What Are the Different Dental Assistant Duties?
If you love working with people and are intrigued by the idea of working with teeth, then being a dental assistant might be the perfect job. It is an active job that consists of a variety of interesting tasks. You also get the satisfaction of helping to give people a beautiful smile. However, you may wonder what exactly a dental assistant’s duties entail.
An excellent dental assistant needs good communication skills. You must be adept at administrative tasks and organization. You must have a firm grasp of dental procedures and be a great multitasker. And you must have a desire to provide excellent patient care.
In this article, we will take a closer look at a day in the life of a dental assistant and all the duties a dental assistant is responsible for.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
A dental assistant’s role is far greater than sitting next to a patient suctioning out saliva during a routine check-up.
In fact, a dental assistant performs various crucial tasks that keep a dental practice running. They can be found in standard dental offices, dental clinics, orthodontic offices, working with children, or even working in public health facilities.
A dental assistant’s duties will depend on where they work and the certifications they have. Some dental assistants may perform a simpler role. However, this job allows you to take various additional courses to expand your skills.
Here are some duties you can expect to see in a dental assistant’s job description.
Administrative Office Duties
A day in the life of a dental assistant includes various administrative tasks around the office.
You may spend time on the phone with patients and schedule their appointments. You will also likely get involved in billing and handling insurance claims. Understanding dental office procedures and financial management is a key part of the job.
When a patient arrives, you may have to welcome them and do the check-in process. You will likely be responsible for collecting and recording their medical histories and updating their patient records.
Dental assistant responsibilities may include educating patients on oral hygiene and any post-operative procedures. You may also assist in scheduling referrals or setting up any necessary tests.
Other general office administration could be necessary depending on the practice’s requirements. You may even have to order supplies and keep an eye on the stock.
Assisting Dentist Chairside
When the dentist attends to a patient, they are focused on many important aspects of their job. Having an assistant is vital to the smooth running of a patient’s appointment.
A vital dental assistant role is often to help a patient feel at ease as they get settled into the chair in the treatment room. Many people are afraid of dental visits, and a friendly face and reassuring presence can help ease their anxiety. This highlights the importance of interpersonal skills in dental assistants.
You can explain the procedure to the patient and prepare them for surgery if necessary.
Before the patient arrives, you may have set up the exam room and sterilized any equipment that the dentist will use.
During the examination, you will provide support to the dentist. This can involve passing equipment and operating any monitors and other equipment.
You will record any patient information as it emerges during the examination or procedure.
During the patient examination, you will also help with dental procedures like extractions, fillings, and crowns. You will keep the patient’s mouth dry with a suction hose but can also be involved in preparing and taking molds of the mouth.
Dental impressions are used as guides for mouth guards, crowns, partial dentures, or orthodontics. In some states, the dental assistant’s duties will also include polishing and whitening teeth.
If you have the right certification, you may assist in dental imaging and X-rays.
Dental images and X-rays allow the dentist to diagnose various issues causing pain and sensitivity. This can range from abscesses to cavities and impacted wisdom teeth.
The dental assistant role includes preparing a patient for X-rays and checking all the equipment before the imaging takes place. They may preload film and verify what imaging is needed.
Dental assistants who are trained in imaging are able to position the patient and take proper safety precautions. They will check if the patient is pregnant or at risk during any imaging procedure.
They will also ask the patient to remove any jewelry or metal objects and advise them to keep still during the procedure.
A dental assistant will also check that the images are of good quality before presenting them to the dentist.
Being close to an open mouth, bacteria, and body fluids is all part of the dental assistant job description.
This is why dental assistants play an important role in infection control in the dental practice. This keeps patients safe from harmful viruses, parasites, and bacteria.
In this job, you will screen patients to ensure they are not sick. You will keep equipment and dental tools clean and sterilized after each patient visit. You will also wipe down the chair to prevent the spread of infections.
Dental Assistants typically sit for and become certified in Infection Control, which is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
How to Become a Dental Assistant?
There are different paths toward becoming a dental assistant. You may require training in only some of the needed areas. In some parts of the country, you could get on-the-job training.
However, to improve their chances, many people choose a specific dental assistant course covering all of the necessary skills.
A good school will offer dental certification in taking X-rays and infection control. This is often required to be able to perform critical dental assistant duties.
Enroll to Learn Dental Assistant’s Duties
A day in the life of a dental assistant is varied, exciting, and rewarding. From interacting with patients to assisting in medical procedures, there is never a dull moment.
The Great Lakes Institute of Technology offers a 10-month diploma dental assisting program that provides all the knowledge and skills you will need to perform a dental assistant’s duties. Students get the educational training to sit for certification exams offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). It also includes job placement assistance.
Contact us for more information about our dental program.