A dental assistant has many different responsibilities that they are required to perform in the office. As a dental assistant, your job description will be continually changing.
Most assistants split their time working directly alongside the dentist in the exam room, performing daily office duties, or working in the laboratory. The constant shift of required responsibilities helps create an exciting and diverse work experience that never gets boring! This is why many assistants enjoy their job. Each day brings on new experiences and responsibilities.
While working with the dentist in the exam room, dental assistants perform many of the simple tasks for the dentist allowing the dentist more time to work on complex dental procedures. Assistants usually help out by sterilizing and prepping equipment for dentists to use. They often lay out specific instruments and tools so that they are easily accessible for the dentist.
During procedures they may hand off specific tools to the dentist when they are needed. They can also work directly with the patients helping them to feel more comfortable by adjusting their chair, keeping their mouth dry and clear by use of suctioning devices, or even removing sutures from inside of their mouth. As a dental assistant, all of this is done under the close and direct supervision of the dentist. Assistants do not perform procedures independently as dental hygienists often do.
Dental professionals also spend a lot time performing daily office duties necessary to keep the office up and running. These responsibilities include scheduling patients’ appointments and calling to confirm these appointments. When patients arrive in the office the dental assistant will greet them and sign them in for their appointment. They are also responsible for keeping and updating patients’ files and records.
Any patient with a change in their insurance provider or mailing address will need to have their file updated by the assistants. While working in the office, dental assistants will also be responsible for sending out bills to patients and insurance companies as well as ordering any new supplies or materials that the office may need. These responsibilities require a great deal of clerical and good organizational skills.
On occasion, assistants will help out in the dental laboratory. Here they will assist dentists in using mouth impressions to create casts of the patients’ teeth. They will be responsible for making temporary crowns for patients as well. In the laboratory assistants can also help by cleaning and polishing equipment and appliances used for lab work. In some places, dental assistants performing duties in the laboratory are required to have additional training or certifications. This varies from state to state.
A career as an assistant can be very rewarding as well as exciting. With constantly changing duties and responsibilities, a day at work will never be the same. This allows assistants to spend more time doing the tasks that they enjoy which results in a much more exciting job!
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