If you’ve thought about becoming a dental assistant, the job outlook should put a smile on your face. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment is projected to grow 11 percent over the next 10 years. Driving the demand is ongoing research that links oral health to general health, and dentists are expected to continue to hire dental assistants to help them with their growing dental practices.
But what does an average day look like for a full-time dental assistant?
Starting the Day
Dental assistants are often part of the team that opens and closes the dental office. Hours will depend on the practice, but a typical workday could be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some evenings or weekends.
Dental assistants start the day by reviewing the day’s schedule, preparing the examining room with the necessary tools and equipment and sterilizing instruments. They will also gather patients’ medical records as well as any necessary medical forms or papers.
Working with Patients
Once the patient arrives, the dental assistant will take them into the examining room for their appointment. They will review the patient’s chart and update information about their medical history as necessary. They may also tell patients what to expect and prep them for any procedures by answering questions and making sure they are comfortable.
During a procedure, a dental assistant helps the dentist by handing them instruments and holding suction hoses to keep the patient’s mouth clean and dry. Under a dentist’s guidance, they may also take x-rays and perform lab tests. In some states, dental assistants will polish teeth, apply sealants or fluoride treatments, or administer a topical anesthetic to numb the patient’s mouth before a procedure.
After a procedure, a dental assistant will review care instructions with the patient, educating them on proper dental hygiene and scheduling the follow-up appointment. They will then restock the examining room with supplies for the next patient. They may even place a phone call the day after a procedure to check in with the patient.
During downtime, a dental assistant may be asked to perform administrative or clinical duties, such as entering procedure information on a billing chart, processing patient invoices and coding insurance bills. They may also be in charge of the practice’s inventory, ordering and restocking dental supplies.
If you love working with people and helping them smile, you may be interested in pursuing a future as a dental assistant. Get started by scheduling a tour at one of our campuses. Please visit the Dental page on the Fortis website, or call for more information.