A Career as a Dental Assistant
What does a dental assistant do?
Dental assistants are responsible for the clinical function of the practice both directly and indirectly assisting the doctor. Some of the tasks that a dental assistant may be required to perform:
- Prepare, disinfect and sterilize instruments, handpieces and cassettes.
- Organize and set up instrument trays, cassettes and materials and prepare the dental operatory for the procedures about to be completed.
- Directly assist the doctor during treatment keeping mouths dry and clear and passing instruments or materials at the right time to keep the doctor focused on the procedure.
- Expose diagnostic dental radiographs, or x-rays.
- Record and organize treatment information in patient records.
- Gather and record both dental and medical histories and vital signs of patients.
- Provide postoperative instructions prescribed by the dentist or hygienist.
- Assist in the management of medical and dental emergencies.
- Pour, trim, mount and polish study casts.
- Instruct patients in oral hygiene.
- Make preliminary molds and bite registrations for study casts
- Clean and polish removable appliances
Most importantly, a great dental assistant keeps patients comfortable both before and during procedures. Many patients are afraid or distressed when they come to the office. Dental assistants are the first face a patient may see upon entering the clinical area and the last person to see them off once their dental treatment is completed. Not only will you find that dental assistants have technical challenges, but they must be friendly, polite and people-oriented as well.