The Dental Assisting profession is a vital component in the dental healthcare delivery team. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook lists Dental Assisting as the fifth highest profession that is expected to grow at a faster than average pace through the year 2016 (www.bls.gov).
The Dental Assistant position is highly technical skilled work responsible for working under the supervision of dentists with a wide range of task in the dental office, ranging from patient care to administrative duties to laboratory functions. Work involves assisting a dentist engaged in performing general dentistry practices such as diagnostic, operative, preventive, and other dental procedures during examination and treatment of patients.
(January 2013, some information retrieved from www.ada.org.)
The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Although state regulations vary, responsibilities may include:
assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures
taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
asking about the patient's medical history and taking blood pressure and pulse
serving as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment
providing patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling)
teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health;
(e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
taking impressions of patients' teeth for study casts (models of teeth)
performing office management tasks that often require the use of a personal computer
communicating with patients and suppliers (e.g., scheduling appointments, answering the telephone, billing and ordering supplies)
helping to provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery