If you’ve ever been in a dental office lobby, you know the familiar face that walks you to the treatment room is the face of a dental assistant. You know that they take your x-rays and love getting to know you on a personable level. Of course, you count on them to give you at-home care advice too! The dental assistant is such a rockstar that they have their own week. Dental Assistant Recognition Week (March 3-9 in 2019) brings awareness to the importance of the profession. Plus, we just love bragging about our dental assistant!
Stepping up to Greatness
Dental assistants must follow a path so they can reach their full knowledgeable potential. The path to success need not be long, but it should be full of experience and a desire to learn. States vary on requirements for becoming a dental assistant. Some require completion of formal education and completion of the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB) certification exam. You can always check your state’s requirements with questions about accreditation.
Arizona is a state that does not require any prior training when supervised under the dentist. Although, you may have a leg up on competition with education for assisting behind you. Either way, the dental assistant will have plenty opportunity to gain the experience they need by working in an oral health care setting of their choosing such as general dentistry, endodontics, or orthodontics. Once a dental assistant finds their perfect fit, they can jump in and thrive in their office of choice.
More than Meets the Eye
Dental assistants never receive as much credit as they deserve. The roles they play in the dental office are exponential, extending far beyond assisting their dentist with treatment and x-rays. Most dental assistants work in the back of a dental office and are in charge of essential duties to enhance the office flow. Responsibilities of this nature include, but certainly are not limited to:
- Assisting dentist with treatments and procedures, including keeping patient mouths dry
- Processing x-rays
- Taking patient impressions (models of teeth)
- Leader in infection control, including preparing and sterilizing instruments
- Educating patients about treatment and at-home care
- Ordering supplies and keeping inventory
- Organizing dental office, keeping office records, and cleaning office spaces
- Taking notes on patient interaction and treatment
The particular dental office matters when it comes to the specific roles of a dental assistant. In fact, so much variety exists that some dental assistants work longer hours with front desk responsibilities such as scheduling, billing, and payment than with other duties. It depends largely on the individual’s preference and on the needs of the dental office.
While role variation is vast, one of the most crucial skills that a dental assistant brings to the table across the board is communication. Understanding how to help patients feel comfortable is key, which often involves stellar listening, verbal, and non-verbal skills. Dental assistants are talented at lowering stress and relaying information about a dental service in layman’s terms. With a dental assistant, you should never feel as though you have somehow chosen the wrong dental office. Rest assured. A dental assistant will knock-out all other social interactions you have on a daily basis because they really do care. That’s how you know that you’re in good hands.
Bowie Family Dental has a very beloved dental assistant. Meet her here.
Want to meet our lovely dental assistant? Reach out today!