What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

DentalApril 06, 2017

If you’re interested in a dental career, a dental assistant is a great option to explore, as it can be fun, challenging, and rewarding. But, while you may have a general idea of what a dental assistant does from visits to your own dentist, you may not be completely clear about everything this profession entails.

In this post, we’ll describe the various duties of dental assistants to give you a deeper understanding of their important role in the daily operations of dental practices.

Typical Duties of a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants have a variety of responsibilities and are valuable members of the dental team. They perform many tasks and need a broad set of skills in technical and administrative aspects, as well as with people.

Below is a list of typical duties, however, an individual dental assistant’s specific duties will vary by state, as well as the dental office of employment.

  • Help patients feel comfortable before, during, and after treatment.
  • Prepare patients for treatments and teeth cleanings
  • Sterilize instruments
  • Assist dentists during procedures by handing them instruments
  • Keep patients’ mouths dry by using suction hoses and other equipment
  • Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Process oral X-rays
  • Help to maintain patient records
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Work with patients on billing and payment

Potential Additional Duties

In some states, dental assistants are allowed to perform certain advanced procedures. Many states require a license or certification to perform the tasks below, however, requirements vary by state.

  • Coronal polishing
  • Sealant application
  • Fluoride application
  • Topical anesthetic application

Dental assistants may also perform lab tasks, like preparing materials for dental impressions or creating temporary crowns. When performing these duties, they work under the direction of a dentist.