What are the job duties of a dental assistant? We bet they do more than you think. These helpful people handle many things around a dentist’s office, from taking care of patient paperwork to establishing a comfortable bedside manner with patients.
In addition to a necessary set of skills, dental assistants have to have patience. They need compassion and understanding, and the job also requires good listening skills. Often the dental assistant is the first and last touch point a patient has in the dentist office, and in many offices, the dental assistant is the person a patient sees the most.
Dental assistants keep the wheels turning. For the patients, they hear their concerns, listen to their requests, and calm their nerves. The job duties of a dental assistant can reach beyond what’s learned from a book or class. Dental assistants 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 are 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 up 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 the next patient.
Assisting the Doctor – The dental assistant typically begins an appointment by taking the patient to the exam room and discussing their needs. Then, they take X-rays and get other assessments for the dentist. 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 the dental assistant isn’t limited to just patient-facing tasks. There’s more to keeping a dental practice running smoothly, like ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, submitting claims, billing customers, and other administrative tasks. Dental assistants are some of the best multitaskers around.
The first week of March is Dental Assistant Recognition week, designed to honor those important team members in every dental practice. So, the next time you go in for a check-up, take the time to appreciate your dental assistant. They help each and every dental appointment happen smoothly.
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*Updated March 2022