A dental assistant wears many hats on a day-to-day basis and as such, plays a vital role in a dental office. This professional helps a dentist accomplish everyday tasks like assisting patients, scheduling appointments, and completing office management duties consistently. In addition, they perform numerous tasks that require both interpersonal and technical skills.
In this guide, we’ll outline the dental assistant job description to help you understand some of the daily dental assistant duties you may run into if you enter this career field.
Why do you want to be a dental assistant?
For those who want to become a dental assistant, it is essential to know what it takes to succeed in this role. With the right skills and training, anyone can learn how to thrive as a dental assistant, both now and in the future.
Here’s a closer look at six dental assistant duties that you should consider before you become a dental assistant:
1. Helping patients feel comfortable.
Dental assistants serve as liaisons between patients and dentists. When a patient arrives for an appointment, a dental assistant must do what they can to help this individual feel comfortable.
That way, a patient won’t feel stressed during their visit and ultimately, can make the most of the experience. This includes an understanding of dental front office responsibilities.
To ensure a patient feels comfortable, a dental assistant must open and maintain a line of communication. By doing so, a patient may become comfortable sharing his or her dental concerns and willing to listen to a dentist’s recommendations as well.
Much of the most important dental assistant tasks take place chairside. Dental assistants perform many tasks to help the patient feel more comfortable such as suctioning saliva, adjusting mouthguards, and talking to the patient.
2. Teaching patients about oral hygiene.
As a dental assistant, you’ll need to serve as an educator who teaches patients about oral hygiene. Your dental assistant responsibilities often include passing down some of your knowledge to help the patient with their oral hygiene.
Regardless of a patient’s age, you must devote the time and resources to maintain good oral health. Dental assistants who are able to teach patients about tooth brushing, flossing, and other common dental care techniques can reduce the risk that these patients will suffer oral health problems down the line.
3. Providing patients with follow-up instructions.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and much in the same way, a patient that wants to maintain a healthy smile will have to work at it day after day.
Fortunately, a dental assistant will provide follow-up instructions to help a patient improve his or her oral health. After a dental procedure, a dental assistant will offer post-visit instructions to a patient and respond to any of his or her concerns.
You’ll then be responsible for discussing any precautions the patient needs to take following their appointment and leading up to their next appointment.
4. Documenting dental care services.
Proper documentation is necessary to track a patient’s short- and long-term oral hygiene. A dental assistant, meanwhile, will document a patient’s dental care services after a visit.
Patients may visit a dental office for several reasons, and dental assistants must ensure they document every patient’s records accordingly. This enables a dentist to review these records at any time and stay up to date on a patient’s oral health over an extended period.
5. Taking and developing X-rays.
Dental assistants must take and develop patient X-rays and employ the proper safety procedures to minimize patient risks. This is one of the most important but rewarding dental assistant duties.
An X-ray certification program remains paramount for those who want to become dental assistants because it teaches students how to handle both traditional and digital X-rays.
It also provides comprehensive information about X-ray safety and the proper techniques for taking and developing X-rays, ensuring dental assistants and patients are protected at all times.
6. Assist the dentist directly.
A dentist cannot perform his or her job effectively without support from a highly trained dental assistant.
Today’s dental assistants support dentists during operative, oral surgery, and orthodontic procedures. As a result, dental assistants serve as key contributors to the overall success of a dental practice.
Dental assistants often enjoy rewarding careers, and with their wide range of everyday tasks, no two shifts are ever the same. And with a commitment to building your dental care skill set and expertise, you can discover what it takes to become a successful dental assistant.