A View into the Daily Work Day of a Dental Assistant

Find out if this role is right for you

If you are looking for a job that allows you to interact with people every day while also combining clinical work and administrative tasks in a health-care setting, you may want to consider becoming a dental assistant. The American College for Medical Careers offers an expanded function dental assistant training program that can prepare you to handle a range of responsibilities in a dental office.

During an average day and depending on state regulations, a dental assistant may perform several different duties. Some require medical knowledge and training for exams, treatments, and procedures while others will call for you to be organized and detail-oriented to help keep the office running efficiently. Excellent communication skills, a positive attitude, and a friendly manner can also help you excel at being a dental assistant.

Clinical Duties

During the course of a work day, you might perform the following duties:

  • Prepping and sterilizing equipment and instruments
  • Preparing exam rooms so the dentist and/or hygienist has the needed instruments for an exam        or procedure
  • Assisting dentist and/or dental hygienist during exams, treatments, and procedures
  • Taking and developing x-rays
  • Taking impressions of patients’ teeth
  • Educating patients on how to maintain good oral health 
  • Recording patient medical history

Office management tasks

On the administrative side of the office, you may complete the following tasks:

  • Scheduling and confirming appointments
  • Answering phones
  • Ordering supplies
  • Updating medical records
  • Processing patient invoices and payments
  • Coding insurance claims properly to ensure timely payment

You may also be responsible for communicating directly with patients to explain the steps of a procedure, to offer words of encouragement during it, and then to provide follow-up instructions. Your goal will be to make patients feel comfortable and at ease before, during and after an exam, treatment, procedure, or surgery.

As a dental assistant you may work in several types of settings including small dental practices with just one dentist, group practices, or in specialty practices such as orthodontics, oral surgery or pediatrics. You may also choose to work in a dental clinic in a hospital where you’ll assist dentists taking care of patients or in dental school clinics where you’ll assist dental students while they are learning how to perform procedures.

If you like taking on responsibility and are looking for a job that allows you to work directly with people, and that requires you to complete varied tasks, becoming a dental assistant might be the right path for you to pursue! Good luck with your decision, and be sure to check out the American College for Medical Careers’ training program for dental assistants.

This article is part of the weekly blog of the American College for Medical Careers in Orlando, FL. Find out more about our Expanded Function Dental Assistant Program and visit us online for more information.