Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk a day in a dental assistant’s shoes? (Or should we say scrubs.) Or maybe you’ve been contemplating a future that is all about keeping people smiling. Either way, let’s walk through what a day in the life of a dental assistant looks like.
Setting up and Sterilizing Equipment
The first order of business of the day is typically to ensure all equipment is cleaned, sterilized, and ready for use. Sterilizing dental instruments is a crucial step in preventing the spread of infection, which is why it’s so important to do it right. You must follow specific protocols and guidelines to disinfect each instrument properly. Depending on your office, this may involve using an autoclave or other sterilization method.
Once the equipment is sterilized, you’ll need to set it up in the treatment room so that everything is ready when the patient arrives. This includes ensuring that the dental chair is in the correct position, setting up the overhead light, and having all the necessary tools within reach. Dental assistants are also tasked with checking the inventory of supplies to ensure they are well-stocked for the day.
Greeting and Educating Patients
As a dental assistant, a big part of your job will be greeting patients and making each one feel comfortable and relaxed during their visit. As soon as patients arrive, dental assistants welcome them and guide them through the check-in process. During their visit, you’ll ensure the patient is comfortable in the chair and provide them with any necessary tools, such as a bib to protect their clothing or sunglasses to shield their eyes from bright lights. Dental Assistants also help educate a patient on the needed treatment or conditions they may have after a Dentist has made a diagnosis.
Another important aspect of a dental assistant’s job is to educate patients on oral health.
During dental appointments, dental assistants will explain the importance of regular dental check-ups and cleanings, as well as the consequences of poor oral hygiene. They show patients the correct way to brush and floss and may also teach patients how to recognize the signs of oral health problems, such as cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues.
Documenting Patient Information and Updating Records
The daily life of dental assistants also includes documenting patient information and updating records is an essential part of a dental assistant’s responsibilities. Before and after each appointment, dental assistants must accurately record and document patient medical history, treatment provided, and any other relevant information. This documentation is vital for maintaining comprehensive and up-to-date patient records and ensuring care continuity.
Dental assistants may also be responsible for scheduling future appointments and managing the dental office’s appointment system. This involves inputting and updating patient information in the office’s computer system, confirming appointments, and ensuring that all necessary paperwork is completed and filed correctly. It’s important to note that dental assistants must maintain strict confidentiality and follow applicable HIPAA laws when handling patient information to protect patient privacy and maintain trust.
Assisting the Dentist During Procedures
One of the most critical things a dental assistant does on a routine basis is support the dentist during dental procedures. This can include anything from handing the dentist instruments and equipment to helping with the administration of anesthesia. During operations, dental assistants must stay alert and attentive to the dentist’s needs, often anticipating their next move to keep the process running smoothly.
They also help the dentist take impressions of patients’ teeth, prepare fillings, and perform other basic procedures. Assisting the dentist during procedures is just one aspect of a dental assistant’s multifaceted role.
Working as a dental assistant requires dedication, professionalism, and excellent communication skills to ensure the best possible patient experience. With an average of around 56,400 new openings for dental assistants every year, job security seems solid for the foreseeable future.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
The training and education requirements to become a dental assistant vary from state to state, but many employers prefer to hire dental assistants who have completed an accredited program. Many dental assistants will receive hands-on experience during their training at actual dental facilities, which can be very helpful in preparing for a career working in the real world of a dental practice.
A good place to start your career exploration is by checking out the Dental Assisting Program at MedQuest College. The accelerated 10-month program offered at both our Lexington and Louisville campuses goes a step further than most dental assisting programs by training students to perform the responsibilities of an Expanded Duties Dental Assistant (EDDA). This comprehensive training can open the door to more opportunities and give graduates an edge when they enter the workforce. If you’d like to learn more about the program, contact us today for more information, or schedule a tour to visit the campus for yourselves!