What is the Job Description of a Dental Assistant

The job of a dental assistant is very important because they are needed for the smooth running of a consultation. Every dentist wants an effective assistant who will help prepare patients for their consultation, sterilize instruments, setting up rooms and some dental hygiene tasks.

They increase the efficiency and quality of the dentist in the delivery of an oral procedure, in the treatments of teeth, gums or mouth and are valuable members of the dental care team.

Dental assistants also document patient care and take x-rays.

If you’re considering this job, you should have strong communication skills, enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind and be responsible.

And you should also remember that the goal is to make every patient feel cared for and very comfortable when he is discharged knowing that the office did everything possible for him.


Duties and responsibilities of a dentist assistant 

  • Preparation of patients for dental work
  • Help control infections by sterilizing and cleansing instruments, setting up instrument trays, preparing materials and assisting with dental procedures.
  • Be good with patients, helping them feel comfortable before, during and after a procedure; a patient might need you to hold their hands, soothe them with comforting words or just needs you to tell them what is going on to reduce the fear of the unknown
  • Recording patient information
  • Giving patients information on oral hygiene, and oral healthcare
  • Ordering dental supplies and maintaining dental equipment inventory
  • Taking and developing dental x-rays
  • Helping to provide direct patient care in all dental specialities including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery.
  • Teaching patients the right hygiene after procedures
  • Assisting dental hygienists with the dental procedure
  • Assisting dentists in managing medical and dental emergencies when necessary
  • Prepare instruments in the sequence the doctor’s going to use them
  • Promote the office at any given chance. 
  • Do not talk about personal problems with any patient rather let the patients do most of the talking
  • A good DA anticipates the doctor’s needs and hands over whatever instrument he/she needs before asked.

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What are the qualifications and requirements to become a dental assistant?

The education requirements of a dental assistant differ from country to country and state to state. But the general qualifications are:

  • Certification or associate degree in an accredited dental assisting program
  • Dental x-ray certification
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Effective communication skills
  • Professional appearance and attitude
  • Completion of the dental hygiene program
  • Able to provide great patient care
  • Be comfortable using computers
  • License to practice
  • Ability to follow laid down rules and guidelines

What are the special skills you require to become a good dental assistant?

Apart from the qualifications, there are some special skills that every DA needs to have.

These skills are important for the DA, the doctor and also the patients as well. Here are some of them;

1. Good and Effective Communication Skills

Communication skills include writing, listening, and talking. A god dental assistant should be a

  • Good listener; a DA will spend her day interacting with patients, trying to know more about him. Therefore, it is important that she knows how to listen very well to both the things said and things unsaid. She will also need this skill when taking orders from the doctor.
  • Good writer; a DA will spend his day writing a lot of things. He will write charts and also write down the procedures used. He will write about patients problems as well as the diagnosis too. 
  • Good talker; a DA will need to know how to talk. He will be able to initiate small talks, talk about the procedures about to be done to the patient, and also talk with the doctor over the procedure. He should also expect to talk about the practice in good lights and to talk on the phone too.

2. Compassion and Empathy 

A lot of patients have anxiety when in a hospital, especially in a dentist’s office. Knowing this fear, a good DA should be ready to empathize and show concern to the patient

3. Excellent Organizational Skills

A DA will spend his days organizing instruments, arranging and filling patients’ paperwork, etc. This skill will help you work easier and less complicated.

4. Multitask 

If you want to bed good DA, then you must learn how to do different things at the same time. You should also be dexterous because you will need to use both your hands simultaneously most times.

5. Be Professional and Have a Strong Work Ethic 

It will always be required of you to look and be professional at all times, and to be determined to do all the duties required of you in a day. Just like most professions, some days will be more difficult and challenging than others. You should ensure that you can bounce back quickly and be ready to face a new day.

Where can you work?

Depending on how busy or in-demand a dentist is, he/she can employ two or more dental assistants. The employment opportunities in this field are numerous. They include:

  • Solo dental practices – with only one dentist
  • Group dental practices – with two or more dentists
  • Special practices such as orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, oral surgery etc.
  • Public health dentistry which focuses on improving oral hygiene in communities
  • Dental school clinics – which helps dental students as they perform dental procedures
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies – to process dental insurance claims
  • Universities, institutions and colleges to train and teach others to be dental assistants
  • Dental product salespersons

Career advantage

There are a lot of advantages to choosing this career. Some of them include 

  1. Flexibility: due to their high demand, there are both full-time and part-time positions
  2. Variety: Being a dental assistant isn’t a monotonous job. A dentist assistant does a number of different tasks in a day.
  3. Excellent working conditions
  4. Personal Satisfaction: The easiest way to feel happy and fulfilled is by helping people. A dentist assistant will be satisfied after a day’s work simply because he has helped someone.

Annual salary

The salary varies from place to place and depends primarily on responsibilities associated with a specific position. It is an average of $37,727 per year.

Conclusion – Dental assistant job description

If you are going to be a better dental assistant, then you need to understand your job description, duties and responsibilities.

This article highlights some of the basics you need.

If you are knowledge of the medical field and wish to start a career in this field, you may want to consider these other career options.

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