More than likely, if you've been to the dentist in the past year, a certified dental assistant (CDA) helped you at some point during your appointment. If you're thinking about becoming a dental assistant, then it can be helpful to understand some of the most common daily duties and responsibilities you’ll have in your career.
The Right Hand Employee
Dental assistants are usually right at a dentist's side as procedures are performed on a patient. You will provide the necessary instruments to the dentist as he or she works—and to make sure all equipment is sterilized before and after a procedure. For example, if you've ever had a cavity filled, there's a good chance a dental assistant was at the side of your chair handing the dentist all the tools needed to perform the filling successfully.
In some dental offices (especially smaller ones), dental assistants will also perform some clerical duties around the office. This can include answering phones, handling some aspects of billing, scheduling appointments, and greeting patients as they enter the office. Clerical or admin work is most common in offices that don't have their own front desk staff.
Basic Dental Procedures
You will also receive the training needed to complete some basic dental procedures, such as taking x-rays, polishing crowns, and conducting fluoride treatments. For patients in need of a crown, dental implant, or mouth guard, you may be the one responsible for taking the necessary impressions for the patient.
Understand Oral Hygiene
Another large part of a dental assistant's job is simply helping patients better understand how to take care of their oral health. For instance, you may provide a young child a demonstration on how to properly brush his or her teeth or walk another patient through the steps of flossing effectively.
Help Produce Dental Appliances
A lot of times, dental assistants are also called upon to help with creating dental appliances such as retainers, dental implants, or custom-fitted whitening trays. This is typically done in a lab within the office, and you may be responsible for not only taking the impressions (as mentioned above) but also pouring the models and trimming them as needed to ensure a proper and comfortable fit within the patient's mouth.
Is CDA A Good Career for You?
These are just a few of the most common job duties that a dental assistant is responsible for on a daily basis; it's by no means a comprehensive list. As a dental assistant, you must learn to wear multiple hats. Many find this is a very rewarding, fulfilling, and exciting career path to take.
If you’re ready to join the ranks, then find a local dental assistant school near you to start training. You could be career-ready in as few as 10 months!