The Roles of a Dental Assistant

What Are Some of the Key Roles a Dental Assistant Is Expected to Do?

Similar to a hospital, there are often so many people in a dentist office, in such similar uniforms that it is difficult to tell who does what until someone sticks a sharp instrument in your mouth. You can safely assume that person is not the receptionist.

In addition to the dentist, the dental hygienist and in many offices the dental lab technician, the dental assistant is an integral part of the dental care team. A dental assistant’s job description is among the most lengthy and diverse of the members of the dental care team.

It requires the perfect mix of technical and people skills. This is a challenging and exciting health care job for anyone with a curiosity for all things dental.

Roles of a Dental Assistant

Partial list of dental assistant job duties:

  • Assisting the dentist during procedures
  • Taking X-Rays
  • Taking patient medical histories and vital signs
  • Enforcing infection control protocols and sterilizing equipment
  • Comforting patients during and after treatments
  • Post-procedure and general oral health patient teaching
  • Taking molds of teeth
  • Assisting with general office management tasks such as answering phones, billing, supply orders and documentation (rule of thumb: if you did not document it, you did not do it)
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Helping with direct patient care as required

It is also among one of the most lucrative and in demand health care jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an expected 29% increase in career growth between 2006 and 2016. While substantial career growth is predicted in all health care jobs, 29% is well above average.

A job as a dental assistant is an excellent avenue into health care, whether as an end goal or as a conduit toward a career as a dentist or dental hygienist.

Many dental assistants receive on the job training, however, graduating from an accredited dental assistant training program is a wise way to be competitive in your job search and expand your career opportunities.





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