What to Expect — A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant

Dental assistant and patient

For a dental assistant, every day presents new opportunities and challenges. Dental assistants are commonly tasked with interpersonal and technical responsibilities — everything from setting out dental instruments for a dentist to engaging with patients and keeping records of patients’ dental treatments. Therefore, if a dental assistant lacks sufficient training and expertise, he or she may struggle to keep pace with a dental office’s day-to-day activities.

At Howard Healthcare Academy, our goal is to help students become successful dental assistants. We offer students the training they need to thrive in a rapidly growing job market, as well as prepare students for the day-to-day job responsibilities.

Howard Healthcare Academy’s dental assistant classes teach students how to become valuable contributors to dental practices across the United States. Below are five common dental assistant responsibilities, and how our classes help dental assistants handle these responsibilities.

Interacting with patients.

A dental assistant frequently serves as a go-to resource for patients, and for a good reason. He or she is responsible for preparing a patient for dental treatment and responding to this individual’s concerns, questions, and requests. A dental assistant also educates patients about oral hygiene and plaque control and provides postoperative information.

Whereas some dental assistant training programs focus exclusively on classroom lessons, Howard Healthcare Academy prioritizes both technical and hands-on learning. We teach students essential communication skills in real-world settings so they understand how to help patients relax and prepare for treatment. Our students participate in externships where they engage with actual patients and can quickly bolster their interpersonal communication skills.

Assisting during dental procedures.

A dental assistant works under the direction of a dentist. As such, he or she may assist a dentist during one or more of the following procedures:

  • Composite fillings
  • Crown & Bridge procedure
  • Tooth extractions
  • Root canals

In additional to assisting a dentist during procedures, a dental assistant can complete the following dental procedures:

  • Coronal polishing: Removal of plaque and other soft deposits from the teeth. During a coronal polishing procedure, a dental assistant removes soft deposits from the teeth and teeth stains caused by coffee, tea, and tobacco.
  • Fluoride: Application of fluoride directly to the teeth. A fluoride application reduces the risk of tooth decay and safeguards the teeth from demineralization and remineralization.
  • Topical anesthetic: Application of a topical anesthetic to numb a patient’s mouth prior to dental treatment. A dental assistant may apply a topical anesthetic before dental impressions are taken or other dental procedures are performed. Dental assistants can also assist the dentist who places local anesthetic.
  • Sealant: Application of a thin, plastic substance (sealant) over the teeth. A sealant prevents food particles and acid-producing bacteria from forming on the teeth, thereby reducing a patient’s risk of cavities and other oral health problems.

The Howard Healthcare Academy dental assistant training program enables students to gain experience with patients in classes and externships. As part of our program, students assist dentists during procedures. That way, our students build their skill sets in real-world settings. This also ensures our students will feel comfortable and confident working in a dental office as soon as they graduate.

Taking and processing X-rays.

X-rays allow dentists to diagnose potential oral health problems before they escalate. At the same time, X-rays help dentists identify cavities, review the status of developing teeth, and offer informed, accurate, and data-driven patient treatment recommendations.

X-rays play a key role in a successful dental treatment plan. Yet X-rays produce a small amount of radiation. Thus, failure to perform dental X-rays properly could put a patient in danger.

Howard Healthcare Academy offers a radiation safety certification course that teaches students everything they need to know about setting up, taking, and processing dental X-rays. The class even allows students to practice taking dental X-rays on a mannequin. Perhaps best of all, upon successful completion of our radiation safety certification course, each student receives an X-ray certification that lasts forever.

Working with dental instruments.

Dentists utilize a wide range of instruments in their efforts to help patients maintain clean, beautiful, and healthy teeth. Meanwhile, dental assistants also use a variety of tools, including:

  • Cotton Pliers: Manipulate cotton and other small objects in a patient’s mouth.
  • High-volume evacuator: Eliminates blood, fluids, and large debris from the mouth.
  • Mouth mirror: Retracts the cheek or tongue and reflects light inside the mouth.
  • Saliva ejector: Removes excess saliva that otherwise makes it difficult for a patient to swallow.

Dental instruments may seem intimidating at first, but Howard Healthcare Academy takes the guesswork out of using these instruments. Our instructors explain how different dental instruments work and teach students how to use them safely. By doing so, we ensure each student is ready to use dental instruments to assist dentists and patients alike.

Maintaining a neat, organized office.

Dental office administrative tasks may prove to be time-consuming and exhausting. Thankfully, dental assistants possess the skills, training, and expertise to help dentists complete assorted office tasks and maintain neat, organized work environments.

A typical dental assistant is responsible for managing patient records, handling bills and payments, and scheduling patient appointments, among other administrative tasks. But he or she is much more than a standard receptionist. With the proper training, a dental assistant can help a dental office optimize its day-to-day productivity and efficiency.

Howard Healthcare Academy students participate in externships where they can fine-tune their administrative skills in a professional work environment. And once these students graduate, they will be able to seamlessly handle even the most challenging dental office administrative tasks.

Sign Up for Dental Assistant Classes at Howard Healthcare Academy

A dental assistant has many daily responsibilities. Without technical and hands-on training, a dental assistant may struggle to handle these responsibilities. Worst of all, if a dental assistant struggles, a dental office is unlikely to deliver the best possible patient care.

Howard Healthcare Academy is a leading provider of dental assistant classes in San Diego. Our classes are taught by instructors who understand the day-to-day responsibilities of dental assistants. These instructors share their knowledge and insights with students, and as a result, help students become vital contributors at dental offices nationwide.

For those who want to pursue a career as a dental assistant, Howard Healthcare Academy can help you move one step closer to achieving your career goals. To find out more about our dental assistant training program, please contact us today at 1 (619) ACADEMY.

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