While many individuals want to become a dental assistant, they are often unaware of the daily tasks performed while on-the-job. In order to give you a better understanding of just what being a dental assistant entails, let’s take a look at what a typical day in the life of your average dental assistant consists of.
Daily List of Activities
A dental assistant works under the authority of a dentist and other dental care professionals. This means you must have excellent communication skills and be able to follow verbal and written directions. In many cases, directions are given with the use of computers where you will find a list of patient’s appointment times each day to prepare for their examinations. In a small dental practice, you might assist with office and examination room functions. In larger dental practices, a dental assistant might specialize by working in either the front or back area.
When seeking an educational program, look at the requirements to become a dental assistant to determine if you can specialize in front or back office procedures. A student interested in working in the front office will focus more on courses that teach how to use computers. Alternatively, back office assistants may learn more about procedures such as cleaning surgical equipment or taking X-rays of a patient’s teeth. All dental assistants learn about human anatomy and federal privacy laws. After determining the patients who will arrive each day, a dental assistant places their charts in a folder for the dentist.
Collects a Patient’s Information
As patients arrive, a dental assistant collects their information in private to determine what is needed during the visit, such as filling a cavity, teeth whitening or an evaluation for braces. Before each examination, a patient provides insurance information or makes a payment arrangement. The examination room is prepared by a dental assistant who makes sure the sinks, counters and chairs are sterilized to avoid contamination. A patient’s folder is placed in a special file for the dentist to find upon entering the examination room. If the dentist needs to look at medical images, the dental assistant places these on a device that has a backlight.
Assist with Patient Procedures
A dental assistant frequently remains in the room throughout the examination to help with various tasks such as handing the dentist instruments during a procedure. An important part of being a dental assistant is remaining calm when patients are frightened or having quick thinking when an emergency occurs. To become a dental assistant, you must learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation in addition to understanding how to avoid contamination from body fluids such as blood and saliva.
Although not always a glamorous job, dental assistants are vital to the functionality of a dentist office. If these types of tasks sound interesting or enjoyable to you, you may consider looking into making dental assisting your career.