A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant

a day in the life of a dental assistant, what do dental assistants doCan you picture yourself in this rewarding career?

A career as a dental assistant can be a gratifying way to use your interpersonal skills to help people, while contributing to a professional and clinical environment of healthcare and administrative professionals. Is this something you might consider? The Harris School of Business offers dental assistant training programs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Here is a general overview of how people in this career spend their workdays, including daily responsibilities and whom you’re likely to interact with:

Starting the day
On an average day you will begin by preparing the office for the schedule that lies ahead. This involves checking the day’s upcoming appointments and preparing or updating the patients’ medical records or papers as needed.

Routine responsibilities
During the course of the day, the dental assistants may need to help one another with administrative as well as clinical duties. You might schedule new appointments, restock supplies, process patient invoices and payments, and/or code insurance bills. This can include working closely with patients to resolve any outstanding issues.

As the dental assistant you may also help to prepare the examination rooms, sterilize dental instruments, and make sure that each contains the appropriate equipment that the hygienist and dentist will need to perform the various procedures.

The dental assistant often plays an important interpersonal role with patients, in reassuring and preparing them for the dental procedures they are to receive that day. You may need to ask about patients’ medical history so that you can update their records for the dentist. You will ensure that the patient is comfortable and ready for the procedure.

During an examination or procedure, the dentists and hygienist may call upon you to hand them instruments and keep the patient’s mouths clean and dry, using equipment like suction hoses.

Under the supervision of the dentist, you’ll likely also take x-rays of patients’ teeth, and perform any necessary laboratory tests. Depending on the state where you will be working, you may also possibly perform polishing, application of sealants or fluoride, or a topical anesthetic (to numb the patient’s mouth).

Following an exam, it is an important part of your role to interact with patients directly about their practical care for their teeth and the details of maintaining proper dental hygiene. Many people will leave their dentist’s office—regardless of what procedures they have had—feeling good about the appointment if they have had a positive interaction with the dental assistant. Therefore, this role can be essential to this aspect of someone’s health care.

Perhaps you can picture yourself doing some or even all of these tasks. Then working as a dental assistant might be the right career for you! Be sure to reach out and request information about specific programs, such as the one at the Harris School of Business.