Dental assistants perform a variety of clinical and administrative duties within a dental office. Dental assistants may administer patient care, perform minor procedures, and conduct examinations. They also work closely with dentists and dental hygienists. Since a dental assistant is the go-to person for many tasks they must have excellent communication, organizational skills and dexterity!
Clinical vs. Administrative Roles for Dental Assistants
The tasks that dental assistants perform primarily fall into two categories – clinical and administrative. While dental assistants do not have the same capabilities as dentists or dental hygienists, dental assistants still perform clinical tasks as directed by dentists, as well as routine examinations.
Some clinical duties medical assistants perform are:
- Make sure a patient feels at ease in the chair
- Prepare the work area for procedures
- Sterilize equipment to prevent the spread of infectious disease
- Help dentists during procedures
- Use a mouth suction hose to keep a patient’s mouth dry
- Educate patients about oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing techniques
- Do tasks that the dentist requests
Administrative tasks medical assistants perform are:
- Greet patients in the waiting room
- Keep dental records for patients
- Schedule appointments and call patients to remind them about upcoming appointments
- Stock supplies and maintain inventory
- Conduct billing and submit insurance forms
In many dental clinics, dental assistants will be required to complete a combination of both types of job duties and perhaps others depending on the facility.
With some specialized training you could become a dental assistant with expanded functions. This means you could do certain tasks in addition to the regular clinical and administrative duties. Some expanded functions may include applying pit sealant, conducting coronal polishing, applying topical fluoride treatment, inserting or removing periodontal dressing, polishing teeth, taking dental x-rays, taking impressions and bite registrations and application of topical anesthetic.
Some areas that dental assistants could specialize in are:
- Orthodontic dental assisting – help orthodontists with patients who require corrective procedures for alignment and spacing issues
- Dental sedation assistant – aid dentists with sedation and monitor patients undergoing general anesthesia or conscious sedation
- Periodontist dental assistant – help with daily clerical, procedural and laboratory tasks pertaining to soft tissue of the mouth (gums)
- Oral or Maxillofacial dental assistant – work closely with a dentist performing oral surgery, prepare work station, assist during surgical procedures, educate patients about aftercare
- Prosthodontic dental assistant – Aid with mixing materials, preparing equipment, assisting the dentist during prosthodontic procedures (replacing missing teeth)
Dental assistants may work for general dentists, pediatric dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, and orthodontists, among others.
A Promising Future
According to the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB), dental assisting is among the top 25 fastest-growing professions in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects between 2014 and 2024 the sector is expected to grow by an approximately 18%, well above average job growth for other industries.
Get the Skills for a Rewarding Dental Career
With First Institute’s Dental Assisting Training Program you can complete your training in 50 weeks and be on your way to starting an exciting career as a dental healthcare professional. Come kick start your career today!