If you are considering a career in dentistry, you may be wondering, what does a dental assistant do? Dental assistants are a vital part of dental offices. These professionals work closely with patients and dental staff, and take one many tasks that allow the office to run smoothly. Let’s take a closer look at what dental assistants do.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
As you probably already know, it’s not just dentists that keep dental offices running. Dental assistants and dental hygienists as well as office managers all help to keep the office running efficiently and create a positive experience for patients. A dental assistant carries out many tasks that help dentists, hygienists and office managers complete their tasks. Dental assistants also work closely with patients and help them feel at ease when they come in.
The specific tasks a dental assistant takes on will depend on the dental office’s needs and the services the office provides. We’ll provide an overview of tasks a dental assistant might perform.
Work With Patients
Dental assistants are often one of the first people that patients talk to when they visit the office. For this reason, it’s important that dental assistants like working with and talking to people. Keep in mind that some patients may have no problem visiting the dentist; they may be calm, friendly and casual. Others may have some frustration or fear about dental visits, and may need some reassurance and empathy.
Here are some specific tasks dental assistants might do when they greet patients:
- Explain dental procedures and address patients’ concerns
- Provide oral hygiene best practices and explain why these are important
- Ask about and record medical history
- Prepare patients for procedures, including routine cleanings and check-ups as well as more
- complex procedures
- Detect a dental or medical emergency if needed when an patient arrives
Prepare for Procedures
A dental assistant helps patients as well as staff members get ready for procedures. This includes a number of technical tasks and routine tasks. Dental assistants may be asked to prepare dental instruments. In this case, it’s essential that the instruments are cleaned and arranged in accordance with safety and sanitation regulations.
Dental assistants will also need to make sure that necessary equipment is working properly, including dental tools as well as computers, displays, and other instruments. When the patient arrives, the dental assistant might also prepare them for the procedure by taking x-rays, blood pressure readings, and getting other information.
Preparing for procedures may include the following:
- Sanitizing and arranging dental instruments
- Refilling or replacing disposable items, like gloves or floss
- Taking x-rays and blood pressure readings
- Ensuring equipment is working properly
- Scheduling service for malfunctioning equipment
Assist with Procedures
A dental assistant helps dentists, hygienists and office managers with a wide variety of tasks. This might include assisting a dentist or dental surgeon during a procedure by providing the right tools or cleaning the surgery area. Other tasks include preparing x-rays, taking dental impressions, and making dental molds. A dental assistant might also help with administrative tasks, like calling patients for appointment reminders, ordering supplies and scheduling service, filing and filling out insurance or billing paperwork, and more.
A dental assistant may help prepare many procedures, including dental procedures and administrative tasks, including:
- Preparing x-rays
- Taking dental impressions
- Making appointment reminders
- Ordering suppliers and scheduling service
- Filling out insurance or billing paperwork
Should You Become a Dental Assistant?
The career outlook for dental assistants is positive. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for dental assistants is about $41,000, or about $19.80 an hour. The employment opportunities for dental assistants are projected to grow about 7% over the next decade, which is faster than average.
Becoming a dental assistant does not require a college degree. Instead, you can attend an accredited training program, receive on-the-job training, or a mix of both. Training through an accredited program will not only give you hands-on training, but also the knowledge you need to take on specific tasks within the dentistry field. BDG Academy offers training on Saturdays over 11 weeks that will help you gain the skills and experience you need to become a dental assistant.