Responsibilities of Dental Assistants

Dental hygienists and dentists perform a wide variety of work that targets many different areas of a patient’s mouth or jaw. Indeed, many dental practices offer a wealth of services to their patients and do their best to perform everything from routine fillings to cosmetic dentistry procedures. Their success is largely dependent upon their knowledge and experience. It also relies quite heavily upon their dental assistants, an area that is perhaps often overlooked.

At Northwestern College, our students are able to complete a Dental Assisting Certificate. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, we offer our students a variety of coursework designed to help them succeed. Once they have finished our certification program, they are prepared to jump right into the workplace! Let’s take a look at some of the things that dental assistants routinely do as part of their job!

Office Duties

Many dental assistants are tasked with reception duties. They often serve as the face of the practice to its patients. Fulfilling a reception role is one of the most important jobs in the office and the most recognizable to patients. Some of the tasks that dental assistants complete when performing reception duties include:

  • Greeting patients
  • Scheduling dental appointments
  • Fielding phone calls
  • Answering questions about care
  • Collecting paperwork
  • Contacting patients to give them accurate information about upcoming appointments

Dental assistants handle many facets of the daily operations of the dental practice. As such, they must have an intimate knowledge of their practice. That includes the costs for dental treatments and procedures in addition to the ability to process payments.

Practice Management Duties

Given their reception duties, it’s no surprise that many dental assistants often have various practice management duties, too. This includes tasks like the following:

  • Managing patient records.
  • Overseeing billing.
  • Ordering dental supplies.
  • Paying office staff and handling office accounting.

Depending upon the practice in question, dental assistants might also find themselves in charge of hiring and firing employees. They might also handle putting together the schedules for hygienists, staff members, and dentists.

Patient Care and Clinical Duties

Other common tasks often assigned to dental assistants occur in the clinic or examining room itself. When they are fulfilling clinical duties, dental assistants perform a variety of duties. These include responding to requests from dentists and helping prepare patients for the procedures they are about to undergo. Dental assistants also:

  • Prepare work areas.
  • Sterilize dental instruments.
  • Process lab work and X-rays.
  • Create temporary crowns.
  • Take casts of teeth.

Dental assistants might also be responsible for helping during exams or procedures. This is often done by keeping patients’ mouths dry using suction hoses.

The duties that a dental assistant performs are as varied as those performed by a dental hygienist or a dentist. That means that dental assistants have plenty of variety throughout their days! For more information about the dental assistant role, or to enroll in a Dental Assisting Certificate, program contact Northwestern College today!

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