A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant

A day in the life of a dental assistant

Are you wondering what it’s like to work as a dental assistant? Maybe you’re curious about what you should expect? If you’re interested in entering a dental assistant training program, then you should consider what a typical day is like on the job, who you’ll interact with, and what your daily tasks may include. Here’s a short guide to a day in the life as a professional dental assistant.

Work Hours

Many dental assistants work full time. They may help open and close a dental office each day. Many work a typical work day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sometimes, they may have to work evenings to assist during dental procedures or surgeries or to make sure the office is prepared and clean for the next business day. Depending on the dental practice or office you work in, you may have to work weekends.

An average day will begin by preparing for the day ahead. They will check the schedule for the day’s upcoming appointments and prepare any medical records or papers. They’ll also conduct other administrative tasks for the day such as updating records, manging patient records, or coding insurance bills. They may even prepare the exam rooms with the specific dental tools and equipment patients may need for their procedures.


Throughout the day, you’ll be busy comforting and preparing patients for dental procedures, sterilizing dental instruments, assisting dentists and hygienists by handing them instruments, and using suction hoses and other equipment to clean and dry patients’ mouths. As a dental assistant, you’ll also conduct x-ray and lab tests under the guidance of dentists. You’ll also use your interpersonal skills to communicate with patients and educate them on practical and proper dental hygiene. You’ll also have to ask and record details about their medical histories. Administrative tasks require them to schedule appointments, restock supplies, and process patient billing and payments.

In some states, dental assistants may be able to perform:

  • Coronal polishing
  • Sealant application
  • Fluoride application
  • Topical anesthetic application

Work Environment

According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, nearly all dental assistants work in dental offices. Dental assistants need to wear protective clothing like surgical masks, gloves, safety glasses, and to prevent the spread of infections or germs to their patients. Safety procedures need to be followed when using x-ray equipment.


Dental assistants work closely with dental hygienists and dentists each day. They need to communicate and listen to dentists when performing x-rays and helping with procedures. A dental office can be busy with many patients undergoing checkups or procedures, so each dental assistants play an important role in helping the movement and processing of patients in and out of the office. During the day, dental assistant may need to help each other with administrative or clinical duties. They must also communicate with each other when new dental supplies needs to be ordered or restocked.

Without dental assistants, the management in dentistry offices could suffer greatly. If you think you have the diligence to learn the technical, organizational, and interpersonal skills required to become a dental assistant, consider entering ACMC’s dental assistant training program today!

The American College for Medical Careers (ACMC) features program-related articles and student advice in its weekly blog. For more information on our dental assistant training program or allied health career programs, contact us at your earliest convenience!