Why we appreciate Dental Assistants | Dental Assistant Recognition Week

What are the job duties of a dental assistant? Anyone who’s visited a dental office has encountered them, and they do more than you think. These helpful people handle many things around a dentist’s office from paperwork to bedside manner. And in our case, they do those duties in a 40-foot long mobile dental clinic!

In addition to education and technical skills, dental assistants must have patience, compassion, and the ability to communicate. Often the dental assistant is the first and last touch point a patient has in the dentist office. A good dental assistant can talk to patients of all ages, listen to their concerns, and gain their trust so the patient is calm and comfortable during care. 

Preparation and takedown Before you’re in the dentist chair, the dental assistant has been preparing the space (called an operatory) for your appointment. This includes cleaning anything left over from a previous appointment, setting out the instruments that will be used, and anything else needed based on the needs of the patient.

Dental assistants are also responsible for ensuring infection control measures, such as sterilizing instruments, disinfecting surfaces in the operatory, and PPE (personal protective equipment) protocols to keep patients and staff safe.

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 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 adding notes to the patient’s chart. Dental assistants also take impressions of teeth and provide post-care instructions.

Office management — The role of dental assistant isn’t limited to 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. Many dental assistants also take care of these responsibilities. They’re some of the best multi-taskers around. 

The job duties of a dental assistant are multi-faceted, so whether it’s the next time you go in for a check-up or the next time you go into work, show your appreciation to the next dental assistant you see. They help each and every dental appointment happen happily.