Job Functions of A Dental Assistant

Did you ever wonder who helps dentists with clinical and admin work? These responsibilities belong to the job functions of a dental assistant. A common misconception is that dental assistants and dental hygienists are the same; they are not. The scope of responsibility assigned to dental assistants is limited in clinical terms.

Get to Know the Dental Assistant

Compared to other occupations where education must be in line with their jobs, dental assistants learn the skills and information they need on the job. This is done through dental assisting training programs set up by their employer.

The training can be done in the community center, junior colleges, trade schools, technical institutions and even the Armed Forces. For high school students interested in a career as a dental assistant, a background in biology, chemistry, health as well as office practices is encouraged.

Dental assistants are more likely to get hired if they are reliable, work well with others, and have good dexterity. In certain states, dental assistants are required to be licensed and pass state approved courses, this means passing a written or practical exam.

For dental assistants who have added responsibilities like radiological procedures, additional examinations are required specifically for radiology. If you intend to pursue dental assisting program, the following overview of job functions of a dental assistant would be helpful:

Responsibilities of a Dental Assistant

The job functions of a dental assistant are divided into three categories: patient care, laboratory duties and office duties.

Patient Care

• Ensure the comfort of patients while in the dental chair, treatment preparation and obtaining necessary dental records;

• Hand dental instruments and paraphernalia to the dentist, maintain a dry and clear patients’ mouth through the use of suction and other devices;

• Sterilize and disinfect all instruments and paraphernalia used, organize tray setups before dental procedure and implement patient education regarding postoperative or general oral health care;
• Prepare materials needed for the creation of impressions, restorations, processes dental x-rays and expose radiographs as per the instruction of the dentist.

• Remove sutures, apply anaesthesia to gums or anti-cavity agents to the teeth, remove excess cement used in filling and install rubber dams on teeth for isolation of individual treatment, but only with instruction from the dentist.

Laboratory Duties

• Create casts of teeth and mouth for impressions;
• Clean, polish and organize removable appliances;
• Create temporary crowns

Office Duties

• Handle the scheduling and confirmation of appointments
• Receive patients (fill up records, direct to waiting room)
• Maintain treatment records
• Finalize billing
• Receive payments
• Order necessary dental supplies and materials

Are you interested in building a career as a dental assistant? Then look for a local school near you offering dental assisting programs.