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What exactly does a Dental Assistant do?

The clinical dental assistant is directly involved in patient care.  The role of the clinical dental assistant is usually defined as chairside or circulating assistant.
The chairside assistant works primarily with the dentist who uses four-handed dentistry techniques.  The term four-handed dentistry describes the seated dentist and chairside assistant working as an efficient team.  The chairside assistant mixes dental materials, exchanges instruments, and provides oral evacuation during dental procedures.  An equally important role of the chairside dental assistant is to make the patient comfortable and relaxed.  

ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF A DENTAL ASSISTANT:

  • Seats and prepares patients
  • Maintains and prepares treatment rooms and instruments
  • Assists dentist at chairside during patient treatment
  • Prepares and delivers dental materials
  • Provides postoperative patient instructions
  • Oversees infection control program
  • Performs radiographic procedures
  • Performs basic laboratory procedures (e.g., pouring impressions to create diagnostic casts)
  • Provides assurance and support for the patient
  • Performs only those intraorla (inside mouth) procedures that are legal in the state in which the Expanded Functions Dental Assistant practices

For more information on licensing for Radiographic and Expanded Functions licensing in Oregon, click here.

The US Department of Labor reports that in 2009, the annual wage for Oregon Dental Assistants is $37, 430. 

*Adapted from Modern Dental Assisting 9th Edition

50 Comments to What exactly does a Dental Assistant do?:

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