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What Dental Assistants Do

Published: January 5, 2022
 

As a Dental Assistant, you are a teacher and a comfort to your patients, a representative of the office, and the Dentist’s best friend. You handle a variety of chairside and administrative tasks so the dentist can focus on patient care. You work behind the scenes with the dentist before and after patient exams, but you’ll also take center stage in the front office, where you keep operations running smoothly and efficiently.

Dental Assistants Welcome Patients

You guide patients through their visits from beginning to end, getting to know them, developing relationships, and being their connection to the dentist and staff. As the first person patients meet when they walk into the office, you greet them, make them feel welcome, and answer any initial questions they might have. You help them fill out paperwork, schedule follow-up appointments, and answer billing questions. You also handle incoming calls and emails, all while showing off your smile, skills, and great personality.

Dental Assistants Prepare Exam Rooms

Before patients have exams, the room needs to be clean, disinfected, and ready. It’s up to you to set up the room for patient care, sterilize instruments and equipment before and after each patient, and lay out all the items that the dentist will use during treatment. You will also get the patient ready, directing them to the chair, putting on that fancy bib, and easing their fears if they’re not a dentist exam fan.

Assist the Dentist

Like the name suggests, Dental Assistants assist dentists. During the exam, you are by the dentist’s side. You hand them dental instruments, take teeth impressions, and dry patient’s mouths with a suction hose. The dentist might also need you to take and process dental X-rays. At the end of the patient exam, you help educate patients on the importance of good dental hygiene and make sure they understand the dentist’s instructions. And you get to hand out those new toothbrushes!

Run the Front Office

A big part of your job as a Dental Assistant is to run the front office. You handle administrative tasks like appointment scheduling, referrals, billing, and appointment reminders. You work with insurance providers to make sure patients get the benefits they’re entitled to and make regular updates to patient records. You also control inventory of the office and product supplies, even the cute little kid toys and fresh and flavored dental floss. When things run low, you order from suppliers. You might even be tasked with checking prices and finding better offers on supplies.

Dental Assistants Follow State Requirements

Your duties will vary from job to job as well as from state to state. Some states have very specific requirements for Dental Assistants while others do not. For example, in Alaska, you don’t need the same kind of training to operate X-ray equipment that you do in some other states. In California, you need to be state certified in radiography to legally operate X-ray equipment. In Washington, all Dental Assistants must be registered with the state. But in California, unlicensed Dental Assistants may perform basic supportive dental procedures.

If it sounds like you have a lot to do as a Dental Assistant, you do! But there are benefits to being a Dental Assistant. You can be part of a dental team and an invaluable asset to dentists and patients alike. Want to learn more? At Charter College, we offer a Certificate in Dental Assisting that will prepare you to enter the field in as few as 10 months. Call 888-200-9942 now.