What Do People Think You Do?
A lot of people think dental assistants just sit next to the dentist and hand him the next tool he needs, but we truly do so much more.
What Do You Really Do?
A dental assistant is just that, the dentist’s assistant. Before becoming a dental assistant, you will need to go to school and complete a dental assistant certification (depending on your state, this could take 6 months to a year. Some states do not require you to get a certification). Once you get hired at a dental office, you will be working with the dentist, the hygienist, and the front office staff. There are a few different areas of the office that you should familiarize yourself with. The front office/waiting room is where the patients enter and exit.
They will most likely come to the front desk to check in, and check out/pay their bill/schedule an appointment upon leaving. If you are working in a smaller practice, you will more than likely also be responsible for helping answer the phone and schedule appointments when the front office staff is out. Next are the patient rooms. Every office is different, but usually, there will be a certain group of rooms that the hygienists are responsible for, and then the rest are the dental assistant’s responsibility.
You will be in charge of keeping the rooms sterilized, and pristine clean before the patients arrive. Once a patient has left, you will bring all the dirty/used instruments into the sterilization room. The sterilization room has a few different pieces of equipment that are used to properly clean the tools we use on patience.
Anything that has been touched or has blood/saliva on it will need to be cleaned. You will also be in charge of making sure the patient rooms are restocked with cotton balls, anesthetic syringes, face masks, gloves, and other necessary items.
A Day In The Life
Most days start early for a dental office. If the first patient arrives at 8, you will need to be there at least by 7:30, if not earlier. First step is making sure the patient rooms are spotless, and ready to go. Check the schedule to see what procedure the first patient has, and set the room up accordingly (something you will learn in school, or on the job depending on your state). Once your patient arrives, bring them back to the room and have them be seated. If they need x-rays done, this is the time to do them. Freely speak with the patient, and see how they are feeling.
If they are anxious/nervous they may need the nitrous oxide or laughing gas to calm them down. If they are in an immense amount of pain, you will need to inform the dentist so they can make sure to treat accordingly. During the procedure, you will hand the dentist anything he/she needs to complete treatment.
Once finished, escort the patient to the check out area and thank them for coming. Usually after this, you will need to re-clean the room thoroughly. Repeat this for every patient that arrives!
What’s The Average Income?
$13.00-$16.00 depending on the state
What Education If Any Is Needed?
You will most likely need to go to school for this job. Some schools do it in 6 months, and there are schools that do it in a year. Most schools have an externship program towards the end so that you have some sort of experience when applying for jobs.
Something Important To Know
Be prepared to see lots of blood and spit. If you can’t handle those two things, then this job may not be right for you!