What are the job duties of a dental assistant? Dental assistants handle many things, from paperwork to making patients feel comfortable, and everybody who’s visited or worked in a dental office has likely come across or been treated by one.
The job duties of a dental assistant can reach beyond what’s learned from a book or class. In addition to a necessary concrete set of skills, dental assistants have to have patience, compassion, understanding, and good listening skills. Often times, the dental assistant is the first and last touch points a patient has in the dentist office. They hear their patients concerns, listen to their requests, and help calm their nerves. If that sounds like you, consider a career as a dental assistant. Some other responsibilities of dental assistants include:
Preparation and Takedown — Before you’re even in the dentist chair, the dental assistant has been hard at work prepping the space for your appointment. This includes cleaning anything left over from a previous appointment, setting out the instruments that will be used, and whatever else is needed based on the needs of the patient. Once the patient has completed their appointment and left the office, the process starts all over again for every new patient.
Assisting the Doctor — The dental assistant typically begins an appointment by taking the patient to the examination room and discussing their needs or any problems or pain they’ve been having. Then, they take X-rays and take other assessments for the dentist from the patient. The assistant helps the dentist with tasks during the appointment including instrument handling, rinsing and suction, and limiting the spread of bacteria. Dental assistants also take impressions of teeth and provide post-care instructions.
Office Management — Often, the role of dental assistant isn’t limited to just patient-facing tasks. Dental assistants can also assist with the day-to-day operations of a dental practice, like ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, submitting claims, billing customers, and other administrative tasks.
While helping the dentist, the patient, and the office work efficiently, dental assistants are often mind-readers, anticipating the needs of those around them! March 3-9 is Dental Assistant Recognition Week, honoring those important team members in every dental practice. The job duties of a dental assistant are multi-faceted, though hopefully not thankless. The next time you go in for a check-up, show your appreciation to the dental assistants on the team! They help each and every dental appointment happen happily.
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