Dental Assistants are members of the dental, surgical team. They assist a dental surgeon in offering more efficient dental care. Dental Assistants are generally distinguished from other allied groups of medical auxiliaries by varying patient scopes, roles and training. Dental Assistants work under the supervision of dental surgeons.

Dental Assistant

Dental Assistants perform a wide range of tasks. These tasks include interposing between a patient and a dental surgeon during an oral surgery or procedure and taking and developing x-rays. Other duties include cleaning teeth, making castings for crowns and root canal preparation and charting surgical site visits. They are also responsible for administering local anesthetics during procedures and making temporary protective dressings for teeth. Dental Assistants provide complete patient care in the dental surgery and clinics.

The role of a Dental Assistant is highly skilled as it involves a lot of daily tasks including sterilizing dental equipment, taking and developing x-rays, preparing patients for dental procedures, removing sutures under local anesthetic and making casts of mouth components. Although the duties of a dental assistant may sound monotonous, they actually require quite some training and practice before being able to carry out all these tasks successfully. As this job requires a lot of skills, it is recommended that anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in this field should acquire at least a diploma in dental assisting from a vocational school or a technical institute. The program offered by most vocational schools and technical institutes includes classroom instruction, hands-on practice of procedures and application of theories in practical and laboratory situations.

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An ideal dental assistant needs to be able to communicate effectively with patients, follow instructions, stay on task and follow directions. One who possesses all these traits and possesses the right education will be able to find a lucrative career in this field. Aspiring Dental Assistants can get financial aid from the Dental Assisting Schools to help them complete their studies.

The requirements for entering into a Dental Assistant School are very stiff and it includes a high pass-out rate in both subjects. The subjects required by dental assistants include physiology and anatomy, medical terminology, ethics, dental procedures, pharmacology, safety and infection control. In the medical terminology section, students are required to learn and understand a large number of words including Ayurveda, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, gallbladder disease, etc. Some other topics that students need to take care of include patient management, therapeutic management, and statistics. For infection control, students need to learn about influenza, pneumonia, gonorrhea, hepatitis and shingles. As part of the course, students also need to learn about environmental and occupational hygiene.

Since a large part of the course involves clinical training, students have to spend a lot of time with patients and complete a lot of difficult tasks under supervised environment. These tasks include assisting dentists in dental surgeries, taking impressions, doing light patient care, lab work, preparing laboratory specimens for diagnostic tests, preparing and packaging laboratory equipment, and more. If you think that you have these kinds of skills, you can apply as a dental assistant. People who want to become dental assistants usually have the following skills:

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The ability to make patients feel comfortable is a prerequisite skill. Dental Assistants are supposed to be sympathetic to the pain of patients because they are the ones that will have to deal with the patient- dentist relationship. Dental Assistants also need to have the ability to understand the dentist’s instructions and communicate effectively with him. Dental Assistants should be able to maintain calm during tense situations. They also should be aware of their surroundings and know how to deal with all kinds of people properly.

Students who want to get a job as a Dental Assistant can find employment opportunities in several ways. Most dentists prefer to hire individuals who are not certified. For them it is better to hire individuals who are certified since they can freely take up the job without worrying about their education. There are some dental assistants who opt to get on the job training while others go for on-the-job training after finding appropriate jobs. The on-the-job training allows dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists. Those who do not want to work under supervision can try self-employment where they can earn through their own efforts.

By Colleen