Dental assistants make their jobs look effortless and many assume that dental assisting doesn’t require much and are often compared to dental hygienists. It can be frustrating when outsiders don’t understand the responsibilities and differences between the two roles. Let’s take a closer look to better understand the hard work of dental assisting as we approach Dental Assisting appreciation week March 3-9.
Many dentists will tell you that they would not be able to do their job without a good dental assistant. A good and successful dental team requires a collaboration of hard-working team members with the assistant’s support as assistants greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of quality oral health care. The responsibilities of a dental assistant are among some of the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office, performing many tasks that require both interpersonal and technical skills.
Some of these duties include: taking and developing dental x-rays, assuring patients feel comfortable before, during, and after treatment, updates patient’s medical history, monitors blood pressure and pulse, assists the dentist during a variety of procedures, helps prevent infections by developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment, takes impressions of patients’ teeth, teaches patients appropriate oral hygiene to help maintain oral health such as tooth brushing, flossing and nutritional counseling, provides patients with instructions for oral care post surgery or other dental treatment procedures such as the placement of a restoration, performs office management tasks that often require the use of a computer to include appointment scheduling, billing, and coordinates other dental specialties within orthodontics, periodontics or oral surgery.
Those who choose this career path embark on the challenging experience of learning the ins and outs of dental assisting and often done in a fast-paced environment with a professional vocabulary that is extensive. The American Dental Association can assure you that Dental assistants receive their formal education through academic programs through community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities and dental schools with graduates of these programs usually obtaining certificates. If you ever overhear someone saying “They’re just a dental assistant”, know that this career is no easy task and that this underappreciated line of work is what educates and helps keep your oral health in the best condition possible. Thank your dental assistant the next time you visit your Colorado Springs Dentistry and understand how their role differentiates from others.