If you are planning to take up dental assistance as your career, then there are a few things you must be aware of and have knowledge about. The activities or duties or tasks performed by a dental assistant ranges from taking x-rays to keeping records, scheduling appointments, taking care of the patients, and more. The tasks or responsibilities of a dental assistant vary from state to state and the dentist under whom they are working.
Duties of Dental Assistants
The common duties of a Dental Assistant are listed below:
- Ensuring that patients are comfortable while sitting in the dental chair
- Informing the patients about the procedure and treatment of their dental problem
- Sterilizing the instruments used while performing dental treatments
- Assist the dentist by handing the instruments during dental treatment
- With the use of suction hose, dry out the patient’s mouth
- Instructing patients to maintain a hygienic oral health
- Under the supervision of the licensed dentist, carry out lab duties and process x-rays
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Carrying out the billing and payment procedures.
Dental Assistants will also recommend oral health products and help the patient choose the right one for their needs. Example could be: choosing a Waterpik to help remove plaque as recommended by the dentist.
Under the direct supervision of the dentist, dental assistants perform tasks such as recording the teeth impression of the patient’s. They can prepare dental impression material or temporary crowns. In some states dental assistants are allowed to perform the below-mentioned tasks too:
- Application of sealants – For sealant application, the assistant applies a thin layer of a plastic element on the teeth which seals out all that is harming the teeth. These can be acid producing bacteria, food particles, and more.
- Application of fluoride – For fluoride application, the fluoride is directly applied to the teeth and is popularly known as an anti-cavity measure.
- Application of topical anesthesia – For applying topical anesthesia to a part of the patient’s mouth, the assistant needs direct supervision of the dentist or maybe they are qualified for this duty. Topical anesthesia temporarily numbs the area it is applied on to.
- Coronal Polishing – For coronal polishing, an assistant does not need any supervision. It is the process of removing plaque like soft deposits and keeping the teeth clean.
There are a number of ways which will help you become a dental assistant. You just need to qualify for the post by passing from a dental assistant school. In some states, you have to graduate by passing an examination and accredited program. A dental assistant gets all the training during the course of their study; no other professional program is required.
Dental Assistant’s Education
The educational program for dental assistants is pretty easy, but in some states to become a dental assistant, one has to graduate by passing an exam of an accredited program. Most of these programs are offered by technical, vocational schools and community colleges. These programs are of 1 year and a certificate is provided to the candidate. Programs which are of more than a year or two years provides the associate degree to the candidate. The American Dental Association or ADA has a different department known as CODA or Commission on Dental Accreditation which holds around 330 programs for this purpose. These accredited programs constitute lab work and classroom work. Students applying for this program learn about the jaws, teeth, gums and other important parts of the mouth on which dentists work. With the help of this program, students learn about practical work performed by dental assistants under the supervision of licensed dentists.
Qualities of Dental Assistants
There are a specific set of rules and protocols which a dental assistant must follow. For example, infection control measures while assisting the dentist during treatment of a patient. Dental assistants must know what tasks they are allowed to perform and what tasks they are not allowed to perform by the rules of the state.
- Dexterity – A dental assistant must be expert while performing their duties as they work in small quarters using some precisely allotted instruments and tools.
- Interpersonal Skills – A dental assistant must have a close working relationship with the dentist they are assisting and the patient. A dental assistant should sensitively help the patients to deal with the pain and mental distress of patients.
- Listening Skills – A dental assistant must listen in details while they are assisting or dealing with patients or communicating with other dental healthcare workers. An assistant must strictly follow and perform the duties as directed by the dentist or dental hygienist.
- Organizational Skills – Organizational skills are an important factor for dental assistants. They must keep the tools and instruments organized for the dentist during treatment.
Dental Assistant’s Licensing Process
Not all states need licensed dental assistants. Some states do require the dental assistants to be registered, licensed and certified for practicing dental assistance. Know all your possibilities and get through to your certification.