Nature of the Work
Dental assistants are competent in the technical areas of preventative dentistry; four-handed dentistry; chair-side assisting with emphasis in diagnostics, operative, fixed prosthodontics, pediatric dentistry, orthodontic procedures, endodontic procedures, and surgical and expanded functions; dental practice management; and dental radiology.
Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, provide appropriate instruments and materials required to treat each patient, and obtain and update patients' dental records. They also instruct patients on postoperative and general oral healthcare.
Dental assistants may prepare materials for impressions and restorations and expose and process dental radiographs as directed by a dentist. They also may remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place dental dams to isolate teeth for treatment.
Dental assistants with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Those with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, file insurance, and order dental supplies and materials.