What to Expect When Working as a Dental Assistant

The job of a dental assistant is often fast paced, challenging, fun, and rewarding. From the patient’s perspective, it may seem like a dental assistant simply passes tools to the dentist or helps with routine exams. However, dental assistants do much more to make sure every patient receives high quality care.

Dental assistants are a vital part of any dentist’s office. This role comes with a variety of responsibilities, ranging from administrative work to patient care. To be a great dental assistant, one has to have administrative, technical, and interpersonal skills to keep the office running smoothly and deliver the best care possible to each patient.

Administrative Skills

To keep the dentist’s office organized and operating seamlessly, dental assistants are often given the task of administrative work. This work varies from office to office, and it may not always be a part of the dental assistant’s daily tasks. However, in some offices, dental assistants may be responsible for scheduling appointments, making reminder calls, helping sort out billing issues, and other computer-based work. Dental assistants may also help keep patients’ records current by inputting new information into the electronic patient records.

Technical Skills

One of the most important jobs a dental assistant has is making sure each patient is comfortable during an exam or procedure. Dental assistants are responsible for providing chair-side support to both dentist and patient whether it is a routine cleaning, cavity filling, extraction, or other procedure. The dental assistant often sets up for the procedure by making sure everything is in place to avoid any unnecessary interruptions. During the appointment, dental assistants are responsible for passing the correct instruments to the dentist accurately and efficiently, while also keeping the safety of the patient and dentist in mind. They are also in charge of keeping the operative field clear of debris during the procedure. Depending on the state’s regulations, dental assistants may also take dental impressions, x-rays, and perform coronal polishes on patients’ mouths.   

People Skills

Because going to the dentist can cause many patients to become nervous, dental assistants have the important job of making each patient feel at ease when they enter the office. Dental assistants are often the first person a patient sees when they are called back from the waiting room, which means it is vital that they have a compassionate, friendly, calming presence about them.

Dental assistants are responsible for settling a patient in and preparing them for their appointment. This may include asking them about their medical history, checking their blood pressure, and taking note of their pulse. Dental assistants may also need to make modifications for some patients depending on their age or abilities. During treatment, dental assistants are responsible for monitoring the patient’s condition and making sure to watch for signs of discomfort or distress. After the procedure is over, dental assistants must be able to communicate effectively about oral hygiene and clearly provide any specific instructions they may need.

The Future Looks Bright for Dental Assistants  

Now is a great time to consider a career as a dental assistant. Projected to be one of the fastest growing healthcare occupations in the coming years, dentists’ offices and dental health groups are constantly looking for highly qualified and skilled dental assistants to join their teams. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the employment of dental assistants to grow 19 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the average job outlook. Since plenty of new jobs will be opening up in the field for certified dental assistants, now is the perfect time to start training for a career in this industry. With programs that last less than a year, you can jumpstart your education and start a rewarding new career as a dental assistant in no time.


Want to find out if a career as a dental assistant is right for you? Take the Dental Professional Training Readiness quiz from Genesis Career College now! Genesis Career College offers a fully-accredited dental assistant program that gives you the tools you need to jumpstart your career in 36 weeks.


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