Duties of a dental assistant may include performing basic treatments on patients such as teeth cleaning or casting molds to measure for crowns, cleaning and sterilizing the dentist's equipment and maintaining patient records. The assistant may also handle taking X-rays of patients as well as assisting the dentist during various procedures and operations.
The specific duties of a dental assistant vary between practices and environments, as the responsibilities often directly correlate to the amount of training and experience the assistant possesses. At the most basic level, the assistant aids the dentist in the treatment of patients in whatever manner is necessary, ranging from handing the dentist tools during an extraction or preparing materials while the dentist completes other actions. Many dental assistants also handle basic or preliminary features so that the dentist can focus on other matters, such as seating the patient or taking and updating X-rays. The X-ray process typically also includes updating patient records as well as comparing new and old versions to identify any significant changes.
It is also common for assistants to handle teeth cleanings, which may involve a special polishing procedure along with a thorough flossing. Some assistants may also participate in general office management tasks such as answering phones and greeting patients as they come into the office. The assistant can also help patients fill out paperwork, process billing matters for services and manage physical or digital patient records.