Job description: what does a dental assistant do?
Dental assistants are employed in dental practices and clinics, practices for orthodontics and oral and maxillofacial surgery, and university institutes with corresponding specialist areas. Employment in a health department is also conceivable. In the practices, the dental assistants mainly work at reception and in the treatment rooms. They assist doctors with examinations and treatment of patients. This includes that rooms are prepared accordingly, and the necessary instruments, aids, and materials such as fillings or impression materials are kept ready and handed over during a treatment. After completing the examination, dental assistants are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting. In the event of an emergency, they can provide first aid. Furthermore, if you have a certificate of expertise, you can take x-rays.
Caring for patients is an essential part of the job. They are received, advised on oral hygiene and prevention, and informed about additional tooth cleaning or bleaching services. Likewise, dental assistants can independently carry out prophylaxis measures. In the area of patient care, appointments are made, and bonus booklets are stamped. Also, the waiting room must be provided with reading material and information material.
Dental assistants additionally carry out numerous administrative activities: treatments and services are documented, patient files are maintained, and incoming payments and invoices are checked. When communicating with external partners such as dental laboratories or health insurance companies, the dental staff handles the dispatch and receipt of materials and takes care of the correspondence. They also order office supplies and important instruments or treatment aids. With this range of activities, dental assistants comprehensively assist the smooth workflow in practice.
Average salary: how much does a dental assistant make?
The average dental assistant makes $39,500 per year. The lowest earned less than $28,300, and the highest earned more than $52,100.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Dental assistant responsibilities and requirements
A three-year recognized training course to become a dental assistant is generally required to practice the profession. Appropriate proof of qualification must be provided for working with X-ray machines.
In addition to professional skills in dentistry, the job requires finger and hand dexterity and near vision when handling instruments such as syringes, tweezers, or suction devices and when treating patients. Besides, dental assistants must be fundamentally ready to contact, adjust to patients, recognize possible fears or uncertainties and be able to react to them in a friendly and customer-oriented manner. When advising patients, both linguistic understanding and sufficient expressiveness are required. In communication, it must be possible to understand the patient’s statements and to be able to formulate his advice. Furthermore, the patient data must be treated with the necessary confidentiality.
Care and a sense of responsibility are essential when handling the instruments, for instance, during disinfection and when performing administrative activities. The correspondence must be mastered spelling and arithmetic skills are necessary for monitoring payment transactions.
Since dental assistants make a significant contribution to the workflow of practice, they must also have planning and organizational skills and basic computer skills. A high degree of independence is required, especially when coordinating the consultation hours.
Some of the work takes place alone, but often also in a team so that the specialist employees must work in groups. Also, the activities can frequently change during the day appointments must be coordinated at reception, professional assistance must be provided in the treatment room, and invoices must be drawn up correctly. This requires commitment and the ability to react quickly and in a focused manner to changing conditions.
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