June 5, 2013

What Is A Dental Assistant?

A dental assistant is like the dentist’s nurse.  A dental assistant prepares the treatment room for the patient with all the instruments and supplies necessary for performing the scheduled appointment.  Part of that preparation includes the prior sterilization and organization of instruments and supplies.

Many dental assistants are involved in the monitoring of the office inventory and are responsible for ordering supplies.  Dental assistants may also do some simple clerical duties like answering the phone, scheduling patients, doing transactions, handling insurance, and educating patients.  The degree of a dental assistant’s involvement with these tasks depends on the number of staff in the office.

Once a treatment room is set up for the patient, the patient is greeted by the dental assistant and seated in the dental chair.  A bib is placed on the patient before the doctor and dental assistant proceed to provide a dental service.  It is most important that a dental assistant serve as a compassionate support to the patient and an efficient helper to the dentist. 

Dental assistants need to know dental procedures well and the dentist’s routine so that they can anticipate what the dentist needs as the procedure progresses.  Dental assistants suction water and help keep patients safe during dental procedures.  They prepare cements and medicaments needed for crowns, root canal therapy, and fillings, and mix materials for dental impressions.  They prepare custom trays for impressions and do other labwork that's for providing dental care.

Dental assistants update patient files and paperwork, filling in information in the patient’s chart after dental procedures.  The dental assistant helps the patient feel comfortable throughout the procedure and at completion of the procedure, assisting with the patient rinsing their mouth and being dismissed for any rescheduling and payment.  Dental assistants take and mount x-rays for the dentist to evaluate for diagnosis.

In NJ there are four different levels of dental assisting based on the credentials the dental assistant has earned.  A dental x-ray license is required in NJ in order for a dental assistant to take x-rays.  A high school diploma or GED is all that is usually needed to get started in this career.

At Tavormina Dentistry we are presently looking to hire a dental assistant with a dental license.  Call 973-761-5090 if you are interested in providing dental care beyond compare.

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