What Are the Main Tasks of Dental Assistants in the Clinic?

When someone says that they are going to get their teeth looked at, you may probably think of their primary dentist as the one to handle their checkup. That is actually correct, as they do most of the heavy-lifting when it comes to the main dental tasks. However, we should not discredit their dental assistants as well.

Not many people may be aware of this, but they are an important staff of any dental clinic as well. If you are curious about the tasks they are allowed to do, here are just a few examples.

1. Perform Dental Examinations

Dental assistants are allowed by law to perform dental examinations or x-rays of patients before the dentist arrives. This is often done as a precautionary measure to guide the dentist on what they need to do with the patient’s teeth.

2. Provide An Estimate of the Patient’s Oral Health

Dental assistants are allowed to estimate the patient’s oral health according to the result of the dental x-ray. This can be done by using the traditional dental x-ray machine and the dental-imaging software. The dentist then views the scans, who then determines if further fixes on the tooth are required.

3. Perform Dental Cleanings

Dental assistants, as well as dental hygienists, can perform dental cleanings on patients. However, please take note that some jurisdictions also require them to provide fluoride varnish applications in some cases. The situation may vary, but this can all be cleared up by the preliminary checks.

4. Provide Sedation

Dental assistants can administer sedation to patients without the consent of a dentist, but they are required to monitor the patient throughout the entire procedure. Again, this is dependent on the first few checks done by the assistant.

5. Treat Dental Emergencies

Dental assistants may also treat dental emergencies like acute trauma injuries. This is why they should be trained in providing critical tooth care early on as well. If a dental emergency happens, they can apply a temporary fixture on the affected tooth until the dentist arrives.

6. Disinfect Dental Instruments

They may also disinfect dental instruments that are used on patients. This is a critical task, especially when they want to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

7. Exercise Other Tasks That the Dentist Directs

Dental assistants are allowed to do whatever tasks that the dentist may direct them to do. This could include monitoring patients who are waiting for their appointment and coordinating with the other new patients about their separate appointments.

Basically, What Do Dental Assistants Do All Day?

The dental assistants in your local dental clinics are always busy, as they have a lot of responsibilities to do. However, this is not to say that they are always on their feet. There are times when they may take a break and relax.

Depending on the tasks required to do, they also have different schedules. While some dental assistants are required to work 24-hours a day, weekdays and weekends, others may have a fixed schedule.


These are just a few of the main tasks that dental assistants are allowed to do. If you are interested in becoming one, you may want to talk with someone from your local dental clinic to get more idea of what you may expect from the profession.

Overall, dental assistants are constantly learning new things, so don’t be discouraged if you feel that you have only accomplished a small percentage of your goal on the first try. That is alright, as being a dental assistant is a learning experience for everyone involved.

If you want to apply for accredited dental assistant programs, look no further than our curriculum here at Northwest Suburban College. We have a wide range of informative programs that will train you for the healthcare-related career that you have been striving for since the beginning. Call us today for more information about our currently-offered training and programs.

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