The dental office is a place of extraordinary precision (there are a lot of sharp things in there!). The dentist, however, is only one person in an office that is bustling with activity. Have you ever wondered what the dental assistant does? After all, this is usually the first person you see after that nice receptionist tells you to sit down in the chair.

What exactly does a dental assistant do?

Bedside Manner

Yes, dental assistants are hired for their bedside mannerisms. It is very important that the patient be comfortable in the dental office (there are a lot of sharp things in there!) in order for the appointment to go smoothly. The dental assistant is the first person responsible for creating this environment of comfort.

Preparing the Work Area

In order to keep the office running efficiently, the modern dentist is seeing patients back to back very quickly. (S)he has no time to prep the office personally – this is the job of the dental assistant. The coordination between the dental assistant and the dentist showcases the backroom coordination that the office has with its records. If you have a dental assistant properly preparing the room, then the dentist can simply walk in, double check the previous analysis and easily perform the operation.

Process Treatments

Speaking of backroom records, the dental assistant is directly responsible for many of those as well. Although many offices have switched to completely digital records, there is still a great deal of human interaction with the medical systems needed in order to transmit records properly. All of this is a primary responsibility of the dental assistant.

You will see the dental assistant take center stage in certain lab tasks such as x-rays and preliminary cleanings. These processes are done under the direction of the dentist, but in many cases, the dentist will not be physically present. It is up to the dental assistant to administrate the procedures, which means that the assistant is basically playing the role of the dentist at many points during your visit.

Patient Instruction

After the dentist is done, it is the job of the dental assistant to sum up the things that need to be done to improve your dental hygiene in the future. The dental assistant is responsible for making sure that you understand the directions of the dentist and taking the right supplies out of the office.

The dental assistant will also normally be responsible for making sure that you schedule an appointment at the appropriate time in the future. Based on your treatment schedule, you may or may not have an additional time to come in at a future date. Even if you do not need to make a mandatory appointment, you may need one for a checkup. It is the job of the assistant to make the patient understand the importance of continuous monitoring and regular check ups, because patients tend to forget these very important dental health prerogatives!

Keep the above descriptions in mind the next time that you go into the dentist’s office. You may use it as an excuse to switch – if your dental assistant is not properly performing the dental assistant duties mentioned above, then you may begin to (correctly question what the rest of the office is doing as well!