A dental office is made up of a team of oral healthcare professionals who all contribute to the office running smoothly and patients’ dental needs being met. The office is headed up by the dentist, but several other roles provide critical support, and everyone’s job is important.
The dental assistant’s primary job is to assist the dentist. When the dentist is performing a procedure on a patient, such as a filling, crown, or tooth extraction, the assistant may help by being “chair-side” to assist the dentist with instruments and other tasks. You might also sterilize and disinfect instruments, instruct patients on oral healthcare, and make sure dental records are kept up to date, as well as handle other types of patient care and office duties.
The hygienist has different responsibilities from an assistant and may or may not work independently. In some states and workplaces, hygienists work independently of the dentist, while in others, they may be supervised. Generally, the hygienist is a licensed oral healthcare provider, and typical duties include providing teeth cleanings by removing tarter and plaque, polishing, applying fluoride, applying sealants, taking X-rays, and screening for oral disease such as mouth cancer. They also instruct patients on good oral hygiene like brushing and flossing.
No less important is the office manager, who serves as a leader in the practice. Dental office managers may manage the appointment schedule, handle billing, coordinate a patient’s treatment, talk to insurance companies, and even supervise staff. Office managers are responsible for running the practice, so they need to be well organized. They interface directly with patients, vendors, and the dental team, so effective communication is important. Sometimes dental assistants go on to advance their careers and become office managers.
Each person plays an integral role in providing dental services to patients. Are you interested in a career as a dental assistant or hygienist? Successfully completing the dental assistant or dental hygienist training program at Fortis can provide you with the education and skill development you need for these growing fields. Click here for more information on our programs or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.