Dental assistants work in a well-lit, clean environment either chair-side with a dentist or in an administrative role or lab setting. Full-time and part-time positions offering day and/or evening hours are available, offering a diverse range of work settings from large corporations with multiple locations to smaller private practices. Dental assistants may also work in schools, hospital settings and the military.
Working alongside a dentist, the dental assistant's patient care work includes:
- Handling instruments and operating dental equipment
- Sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Taking dental x-rays and processing the film
- Removing sutures
- Applying topical anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth
- Placing rubber dams on the teeth to isolate them for individual treatment
- Sitting chairside with the dentist to assist with procedures
- Obtaining health and dental history information from patients
- Producing diagnostic dental x-rays to aid in treatment planning
- Applying current infection control techniques within the dental office
- Performing expanded functions, such as polishing, applying sealants and others, with appropriate training in line with state mandates
In addition, these professionals can also be involved in office-related tasks such as scheduling and confirming appointments, maintaining treatment records, handling patient payments and ordering supplies and other materials.
There are a variety of settings in which a dental assistant can work. Those include, but are not limited to, private practice, clinics, military positions, correctional facilities, nursing homes, schools, health departments and labs. Herzing University provides its dental assistant program graduates with a wide range of skills that can be applied to a variety of settings.
Professional dental assistants demonstrate exceptional time management skills, multitasking abilities, are detailed oriented, and contribute to a positive team environment while focusing on patient care as a top priority.