Who are dental assistants?
Dental assistants help dentists by performing routine tasks. Their duties can include patient, laboratory, or office responsibilities. Patient-wise, dental assistants may instruct patients pre- and post-operations and can be a resource of information regarding dental health and care. They may assist the dentist him/herself during an operation by handing the dentist various instruments or materials that the assistant may have previously prepared, sterilized, and laid out in preparation. Some assistance may include keeping patientís mouths dry and clear through the use of suction hoses. Dental assistants may also have office responsibilities such as prepare filing records, insurance claims, and other paperwork that are routine and shouldnít utilize a dentistís valuable time. Other duties may include laboratory tasks such as preparing x-rays, making casts, and creating temporary crowns. More advanced duties may be given to the dental assistant if the assistant fulfill the training and experience requirements.
Dental assistants are often confused with dental hygienists. The primary difference between these two professions is that dental hygienists uses dentistry tools to remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, i.e. they clean teeth. Although there are some responsibilities that overlap such as educating the patient on the proper and preventative oral care, dental assistants generally donít clean their patientís teeth. Dental assistants carry with them a license that allows them to perform specific clinical tasks that may differ from those of the dental hygienist. They sometimes may apply anesthesia, remove sutures, or other tasks as designated by the supervising dentist.