How to become a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants prepare patients for oral examination and assist other dental workers, such as dentists, dental therapists and dental hygienists, in providing treatment to the teeth, mouth and gums. Dental assistants also carry out reception and administration duties.

Personal requirements of a Dental Assistant

  • good with hands
  • able to concentrate and follow instructions
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • good organisational and time management skills
  • interested in healthcare work.

Duties & Tasks of a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants may perform the following tasks:

  • receive patients and prepare them for necessary dental procedures
  • prepare surgery for dental treatment with correct instruments/materials for use as directed by the operator
  • record findings from oral examinations
  • provide instruments and dispense materials during oral examinations or treatments, as directed by the operator
  • provide pre- and post-operative instructions for patients undergoing general or local anaesthesia
  • clear the patient's mouth of saliva or dental materials used in the treatment by operating handheld suction or air and water-spraying equipment
  • clean and sterilise instruments used after treatment
  • clean and tidy the surgery, and implement standard decontamination procedures for infection control
  • process, mount and file dental X-rays
  • maintain and restock dental supplies
  • perform routine care and maintenance of dental equipment and instruments
  • make appointments for patients, keep records of patients' treatments and send out reminders for re-examinations
  • prepare accounts and collect payments
  • answer the telephone and carry out other office duties.

Working conditions for a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants may work with just one person, or as part of a team. They may have to work under pressure as most treatments have to be completed in a minimum amount of time.

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