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Why We Appreciate Dental Assistants | Dental Assistant Recognition Week

By Shelby Tatomir on February 20, 2020 in Clinic and Provider Tips


Everybody who’s been to the dentist has worked with one, but what exactly are the job duties of a de

What are the job duties of a dental assistant? Everybody who’s been to a dental office has come across them. Dental assistants handle many things around a dentist’s office from paperwork to bedside manner. 

In addition to a necessary concrete set of skills, dental assistants have to have patience. They need compassion and understanding, and it also requires that they’re a good listener. Often times the dental assistant is 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. They listen to their requests, and they calm a nervous patient. 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 is a breakdown of some other responsibilities of dental assistants:

A dentist and his dental assistant make a young female patient laugh in the dental chair.

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 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 every new incoming patient. 

A dental assistant works in the exam room to prepare for the next dental appointment.

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 get 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.

Two dental assistants review a patient’s x-ray on a computer at the dental office desk.]

Office management —

Often, the role of dental assistant isn’t limited to just patient-facing tasks. There’s more to a keeping a dental practice running smoothly, like ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, submitting claims, billing customers, and other administrative tasks. Many dental assistants also take care of these responsibilities. They’re some of the best multi-taskers around. 

While helping the dentist, the patient, and the office work efficiently, dental assistants are often mind-readers, anticipating 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. They help each and every dental appointment happen happily. 


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