Dental assistants help make dentists more efficient, and patients more comfortable. They perform a blend of direct patient care and administrative duties. Dental assistants prepare the dental exam room, sterilizing and setting up equipment. During appointments, dental assistants may take x-rays, hand dentists instruments, keep patients’ mouths dry, and teach patients about proper oral hygiene. On the administrative side, they maintain patient records, schedule appointments, and work with patients on billing and payment. Essential skills for dental assistants include detail orientation, finger dexterity, listening, and organization. Almost all dental assistants work in dentists’ offices. They wear safety glasses, surgical masks, and gloves, and follow safety procedures to protect themselves and patients. About one-third of dental assistants work part time. Some work evenings or weekends. Requirements to enter the field differ: some states require graduation from an accredited program, and licensure or certification. Other states have no formal educational requirements, and assistants learn their duties on-the-job.
What they do:
Perform limited clinical duties under the direction of a dentist. Clinical duties may include equipment preparation and sterilization, preparing patients for treatment, assisting the dentist during treatment, and providing patients with instructions for oral healthcare procedures. May perform administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes.
On the job, you would:
Prepare patient, sterilize or disinfect instruments, set up instrument trays, prepare materials, or assist dentist during dental procedures.
Record treatment information in patient records.
Assist dentist in management of medical or dental emergencies.
medicine and dentistry
Arts and Humanities
Engineering and Technology
computers and electronics
listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
talking to others
noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it
communicate by speaking
listen and understand what people say
Hand and Finger Use
keep your arm or hand steady
put together small parts with your fingers
Ideas and Logic
use rules to solve problems
order or arrange things
do two or more things at the same time
People interested in this work like activities that include data, detail, and regular routines.
They do well at jobs that need:
Attention to Detail
You might use software like this on the job:
Henry Schein Dentrix
Patterson Dental Supply Patterson EagleSoft
Electronic mail software
certificate after high school or high school diploma/GED usually needed
Get started on your career:
New job opportunities are very likely in the future.