What are the job duties of a dental assistant? These helpful people handle many things around a dentist’s office from paperwork to bedside manner. In addition to a concrete set of skills, dental assistants must have patience, compassion and understanding. The dental assistant is likely the first and last touch point a patient has in the dentist office. Sometimes it could be the receptionist or the dentist themselves. But, in many offices, the dental assistant is the person a patient sees the most.
Dental assistants grease the cogs that keep the wheels turning. For the patients, they hear their concerns and calm their fears. The job duties of a dental assistant can reach beyond what’s learned from a book or class. They are good listeners and enjoy people. If that sounds like you, consider a career as a dental assistant. In honor of these key employees, here is a breakdown of some other responsibilities of dental assistants:
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 any necessary tools 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 incoming patient.
Assisting the Doctor — The dental assistant typically begins an appointment by taking the patient to the examination room and discussing their needs. 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 — The role of dental assistant isn’t limited to just patient-facing tasks but includes helping the dental practice run smoothly. Many dental assistants take on responsibilities such as ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, submitting claims, billing customers, and other administrative tasks. They’re some of the best multi-taskers around.
While helping the dentist, the patient, and the office work efficiently, dental assistants anticipate the needs of those around them. March 3-9 is Dental Assistant Recognition week, designed to honor those important team members in every dental practice. The job duties of a dental assistant are multi-faceted, though hopefully not thankless. So, whether it’s the next time you go in for a check-up or the next time you go into work, appreciate the next dental assistant you see.
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