When people go to a dental office, they often assume that the dentist does all the work. There’s no doubt a dentist is important, but they also rely heavily on their dental assistants. From office management to assisting in dental procedures, there are plenty of reasons why we appreciate dental assistants.
What is a dental assistant?
Dental assistants grease the wheels, so a dental office can keep operating smoothly. Most dental assistants schedule appointments, keep patient records, help with dental procedures such as X-rays, and perform tasks around the office such as sterilizing rooms and tools. Dental assistants also are very involved in patient care and making sure patients are comfortable.
Common dental assistant tasks
Before you’re even in the dentist chair, the dental assistant has been hard at work preparing 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 for each patient. Once the patient has completed their appointment and left the office, the process starts all over again for every new patient.
The dental assistant typically begins an appointment by taking the patient to the examination room and discussing their needs. Next, they may take X-rays and other assessments that the dentist needs. 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.
Often, the role of dental assistant isn’t limited to just patient-facing tasks. Dental assistants might also keep the dental office running smoothly by managing tasks like ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, submitting claims, billing customers, and other administrative duties. They’re some of the best multi-taskers around.
Why we appreciate dental assistants
Dental assistants are the backbone in dentist offices all around the world! From assisting in procedures to keeping the office running smoothly, there are so many reasons why we appreciate dental assistants.
March 5–11 is Dental Assistant Recognition Week, designed to honor those important team members in every dental practice. The next time you visit your dentist, be sure to give extra thanks to the dental assistants!
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*Updated March 2023