Being a Dental Assistant: Daily Duties and Responsibilities (Part 2)

We started to take a peek at the dental assistant certification prerequisites in Part 1 of this series. In Part 2, we’ll look further into the daily duties of a dental assistant, typically determined by the clinic the assistant is serving. This should serve as a guide to helping you fully understand what it means to be a dental assistant. 

Without further ado, here’s what the day in the life of a dental assistant may look like:

A Rundown of Daily Activities 

Dental assistants are expected to be constantly on their feet, so their daily activities might include:

  • Secretion control, which is achieved by drying patients’ mouths and employing suction
  • Assisting dentists and hygienists during treatments by handling tools and materials
  • Providing comfort to patients before, during, and after treatments or tests
  • Taking down vital indicators such as pulse and blood pressure are measured and recorded
  • Checking patients in, leading them to exam rooms or seats, and assisting them in getting situated in for their visit
  • Educating patients about post-procedure care
  • Educating patients about appropriate oral hygiene
  • Helping in the retrieval of charts and medical records
  • Keeping records
  • Making appointments
  • Exposing and processing X-rays and lab tests under the dentist’s supervision
  • Collaborate with patients on invoicing and payment

You’ll also have to clean and prepare treatment rooms and laboratories. Dental assistants sterilize and disinfect equipment per OSHA, CDC, EPA, and OSAP guidelines.

Dental aides prepare, pour, and take alginate imprints of patients’ teeth. Arcing and mounting study casts are examples of this, while custom trays, mouth guards, and teeth-whitening trays are also available.

Working Conditions

Dental assistants evaluate their opportunities for advancement as excellent. Job stress levels are considered normal, while flexibility is considered above average. The majority of them work in offices, while most work in doctor’s offices both privately owned and by the government (in the armed forces, veterans’ clinics, and the like).

An assistant can serve dentists under the various practices such as the following: 

  • General dentistry
  • Pediatric dentistry (working with children)
  • Orthodontics (straightening teeth)
  • Oral surgery
  • Periodontics (working with the gums)
  • Endodontics (working with the pulp)
  • Prosthodontics 

They can also get work with insurance firms that include dental insurance claims. Another career option would be to be involved in the marketing and sales of dental supplies to clinics, hospitals, and the like. Lastly, they can also work as supervisors of other assistants, collaborating with dental hygienists.

As a safety standard, assistants must wear full-face gear, including masks, eye shields, or face masks. Infectious illness procedures need the use of additional personal protective equipment. Gowns, protective gear, and gloves are among examples. Compliance with safety protocols during x-rays is critical for lowering your radiation exposure risk.

Career Advancement

Depending on the condition in which you work, they may train you to do more complex duties. Specific processes may also necessitate the acquisition of a license or registration. 

The Dental Assisting National Board certification is another possibility. This test requires a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as completion of an approved curriculum. Before receiving further training, the state requires a certain quantity of job experience. You may also be required to keep your CPR certification up to date.

Students who want to work as dental hygienists in the future should have an associate degree.


Working as a dental assistant is a worthwhile profession. Making patients feel at ease and heard is an integral part of being a good one. As a result, communication and customer service are two of the most critical abilities required for this position. 

You’ll be putting patients first every day, which will give you a tremendous feeling of pride. You can be part of putting better smiles on people’s faces, improving their quality of life. 

Nothing beats making a big difference on someone’s day! Aside from the professional and financial rewards, becoming a dental assistant may be a very gratifying and meaningful career option for you.

Today, the demand for medical and dental assistants is increasing. At Northwest Suburban College, we are here to help you pursue your dream of becoming one with our dental assistant degree program. We are a health science college near Schaumburg, IL. If you want to learn more about our programs, call us today!

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