Dentists are superheroes in the eyes of their patients. Have you ever wondered where they get their superpowers? From their sidekicks; the dental assistants! Like Robin to Batman, dental assistants are the powerhouse behind the working dentist. Whenever you visit your dentist, you see a person standing right next to the dentist, and assisting them in performing the dental procedures. This person is a dental assistant who helps the dentist in dental operations.
Let’s look at the duties and responsibilities of a dental assistant. However, before that, we will look at what type of qualification or training required in becoming a registered or certified dental assistant.
How to Become a Dental Assistant?
Where you live will have a large impact on determining the type of training you will need to work in a dental office as a dental assistant. Becoming a dental assistant requires training at an accredited dental assisting school or a formal education. Some students undergo a two-year, rigorous teaching, and training program to earn a diploma or an associate bachelor’s degree in dental assisting. Other dental assistant programs can be much shorter than a formal education with a 10-12 week training course and job experience immediately following the certification for a quicker start to their careers! At The Core Foundation, we offer a 12-week dental assisting course to help jumpstart your new career!
What are the Roles and Responsibilities of Dental Assistants?
Dental assistants are vital members of the dental team. They perform a broad range of duties to ensure the smooth functioning of the dental office. A dental assistant’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
• Assisting the Dentist During Dental Procedures – Imagine what would happen if dentists had to get up from their chair every time they needed a dental instrument or material? The procedure would take much longer! Thanks to the dental assistants, they get everything at the dental chairside. A dental assistant even anticipates the next step in the dentists’ procedure, and provides him or her with the required instruments or materials, before they need to ask for it!
• Taking X-rays for the Dentist – Dental x-rays are taken during dental procedures. One of the duties of dental assistants is to take dental x-rays and then report the images to the dentist. Thanks to modern technology, x-rays provide digital images which can be viewed directly on the screen so developing x-rays is not practiced as often.
• Instrument Handling and Sterilization – Dental assistants assist with taking care of the dental instruments and sterilizing them after being used in the dental procedures. They are also responsible for developing and implementing infection control protocol for the dental operatory, which is then followed by the entire dental team.
• Looking After the Patients – Dental assistants make sure that patients remain comfortable while in the dental office before, during, and after their dental treatment. They escort the patients from the waiting room to the dental operatory and then see them off once their treatment has finished.
• Patient Education – Whenever patients have any questions, dental assistants are usually the trusted hero to answer the question. As a part of their training and responsibilities, dental assistants educate patients regarding the procedure they are about to undergo and are readily available for any other queries that the patients may have.
• Making Dental Impressions of Patients – Sometimes, dental assistants have the responsibility of making impressions of the patients’ teeth for making study models. However, not all states in the United States allow dental assistants to perform this operation.
• Communicating with Dental Suppliers – Dental assistants keep a record of the materials used during the dental procedures. When inventory is dwindling, they call the dental suppliers to resupply the office equipment. They are responsible for ensuring uninterrupted supply of dental materials, and instruments to keep the office running smoothly.
• Coordinating with the Dental Laboratory – Dental appliances for patients such as dentures, crowns, bridges, and orthodontic retainers are not developed in the dental office. Rather, these advanced tools are crafted in a dental laboratory. Another responsibility of a dental assistant is to remain in communication with the dental laboratory to ensure preparation and availability before patients visit for their next appointment.
To sum up, a dental assistant is an essential member of a dental office team. They are the sidekick of the dentist. Dental assistants greatly enhance the efficiency of the dentist and the dental office. The performance of the dental assistance can significantly affect the success of both the dentist and the dental office. Let’s take a moment to thank all the dental assistants around the world who work tirelessly to make us smile, build our confidence, and keep us healthy.