What to Expect as a Dental Assistant
Do you know what to expect as a dental assistant? If you’re looking to become a dental assistant but don’t know what goes on in the office here is a general idea. Usually dental assistants are focused on preparing the patient, equipment, and instruments for the dental procedure as well as assisting the dentist. Your job is to increase the efficiency of the dentist in delivering the oral healthcare to the patient. Your duties will vary by state regulations but it will usually be centered around preparation and supporting the dentist. Dental assistants are closely tied to dental hygienists but there is a big difference between them.
On a normal day you can expect to prepare patients for dental treatment by retrieving dental records, taking and exposing x-rays, and making the patients feel as comfortable as possible before, during, and after the procedure. You will have to sterilize and disinfect equipment and prepare them on trays for the dentist for easy access.
You will also assist the dentist in the procedure by handing them the tools/equipment they need or by getting supplies. The patients’ mouth needs to be dry so you will have to use a suction and when needed you will have to rinse. You might also sometimes remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics, or remove excess cement from the filling process. In some states you might have specialized tasks such as cleaning teeth, applying sealant, or applying fluoride. Afterwards you can expect to provide patients with instructions on how to take care of their teeth after surgery/treatment or teach them proper oral hygiene strategies. You would then schedule a follow-up appointment.
If you have laboratory duties you can expect to make temporary crowns, clean and polish removable appliances, and make cast of the teeth and mouth from impressions.
If you have office duties you can expect to schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills and receive payments, and order supplies and materials.
What to expect as a dental assistant when it comes to skills. You will need to:
- Work efficiently with dental staff
- Communicate effectively with patients and dental staff
- Disinfect dental tools properly
- Work with patients to provide a good experience
- Explain dental hygiene and proper care of teeth
- Stay focused during the dental procedure
- Attention to detail/listen to the dentist
- Stay organized/manage the office