Dental Assistants: Duties and Responsibilities

favoriteplus dental assistantBeing a dental assistant is a challenging and rewarding career. It demands versatility and a willingness to assume responsibility for many different tasks. Dental assistants are not limited to assisting and cleaning dental instruments. They also help patients feel comfortable before, during, and after dental treatment.

Below are the usual duties of dental assistants:

  • Explain dental problems to patients. Educate them through charts, models, and pictures. Intraoral cameras work great for demonstrations. Use a dental intraoral camera to demonstrate any abnormalities, such as cracks, decay, fractures, or gum disease. Give possible scenarios if not treated promptly.


  • Prepare for what the dentist would need. If the dentist has to ask you for instruments, then you’re not anticipating. If the dentist is instructing the patient to open their mouth, repeat it to the patient.


  • You must keep the bracket tray and countertop neat and free of debris. Place all instruments in an orderly fashion. Always stay ahead of the dentist and ensure patients of your competence.


  • When appropriate, advise patients that the practice uses the best dental lab and choice materials.


  • Ensure that patients go over all postoperative instructions and make sure to answer any questions they have.


  • Patients are your number one priority. Stay alert to their expectations regarding appointment length. If you notice you’re going to be running late or finishing early, inform patients so that they can make arrangements if necessary.


  • When not assisting the doctor, prepare for the next appointed patient. Set up the operatory for the following procedure. Keep up with sterilization when you’re not with a patient or the doctor.


  • Be friendly and socialize with the patients. Inquire about their family, where they’re from, vacations, or their hobbies. Most people like to talk about themselves.


  • You must follow the schedule and check upfront when patients arrive so you can seat them immediately. If a patient is not in within five minutes of their appointment time, call them. Confirm if they are on their way to the dental clinic or have had a circumstance that requires a change of appointment time.


  • You should know a patient’s total treatment, and review any questions with the doctor.


  • Purge documents more than seven years old. Scan documents into patients’ charts in your dental software and shred those documents once scanned.


  • As needed, review home care, especially how to clean under a bridge, implant, or orthodontics.


  • Offer patients stereo headphones for either the TV or music. Encourage and explain the need for headphones.


  • Use protective glasses on all patients. It keeps the bright light and splatters out of their eyes.


  • Emphasize the need for regular cleanings. Encourage more frequent recalls.


  • Ask patients if they’re satisfied with the color and shape of their teeth.


  • Where indicated, encourage whitening. Use brochures, videos, and albums of before and after photos.


  • Ask patients many times during treatment if they are doing okay. Sustain warm and personal care.


  • When dismissing patients, make sure they’re doing well. Wipe their face to remove any debris. Advise that they use the bathroom to check their appearance or freshen up.


  • Don’t forget to discuss the patients’ following procedures. A completed treatment plan and satisfied patients are a top priority.


You are an intrinsic part of the success of the dental practice. Perform your many essential duties with pride.

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