Thinking of Becoming a Dental Assistant? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Dental Assistants have a broad range of responsibilities that are crucial for the smooth running of the dental practice. Discover more about what a Dental Assistant role entails and what skills you’ll need for the job.

Whether you’re considering becoming a Dental Assistant or are looking to make a career change, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what a typical Dental Assistant job description looks like.

Dental Assistants are required to take on a number of responsibilities within the practice, so knowing what type of duties you might be asked to undertake can help you decide whether dental assisting is right for you.

In this article, we’re taking a look at the day-to-day tasks performed in a dental assisting role, as well as how you can find employment as a Dental Assistant.

What is the purpose of a Dental Assistant?

The purpose of a Dental Assistant (sometimes referred to as a Dental Nurse) is to help the Dental Practitioner in a variety of different ways, ensuring the practitioner can work efficiently and provide high-quality care to patients.

A Dental Assistant will be involved in the preparation of patients for dental examinations and will assist the Dentist with instruments, treatments, and X-rays. They will also assist other dental workers in the practice, including Dental Therapists and Hygienists.

What are the typical duties of a Dental Assistant?

While the specific job description of a Dental Assistant will vary from practice to practice, there are a number of duties that the majority of Dental Assistants will be required to undertake.

These responsibilities range from assisting the dental practitioner during treatment to ensuring patients are adequately prepared for their procedure and performing general administration tasks within the practice.

Here’s an example of some of the typical day-to-day tasks you can expect to perform in your role as a Dental Assistant:

●    Welcome patients and prepare them for their upcoming dental procedure.

●    Ensure the practice room is prepared in advance with all necessary instruments.

●    Record the results of oral examinations.

●    Provide the Dental Practitioner with instruments and materials as required during treatment.

●    Advise patients undergoing anaesthesia on pre- and post-operative instructions.

●    Use a handheld suction instrument as well as an air and water spray to clear patients’ mouths of saliva or dental materials used in the treatment.

●    Clean and sterilise all instruments after treatment.

●    Ensure the practice room is kept clean and tidy.

●    Process, mount, and file dental X-rays.

●    Take care of dental supplies, including organising and re-stocking.

●    Book patient appointments and schedule reminders.

●    Collect payments from patients.

●    Perform general reception duties such as taking phone calls and undertaking other administration tasks.

How can I become a Dental Assistant?

While there are no formal training requirements to gain an entry-level Dental Assistant role, vocational training is highly recommended to improve your employment prospects and enhance your resume.

You can complete either a Certificate III in Dental Assisting HLT35015 or Certificate IV in Dental Assisting HLT45015 at an accredited TAFE institution. During your training, you’ll learn how to work alongside Dentists, Dental Hygienists and Dental Therapists.

Many experienced Dental Assistants choose to continue their education with additional formal training, such as university courses in dental hygiene or dental therapy. This can help you further your career and open up more opportunities.

To view current Dental Assistant positions on our website, visit the Dental Assistant Opportunities page.

What personal qualities are recommended for Dental Assistants?

Aside from having an interest in dentistry and healthcare work, the following personal attributes will be valued by potential employers seeking a Dental Assistant for their practice:

●    High ethical standards.

●    A caring and positive attitude.

●    Skilled at interacting with people.

●    Strong organisational and time management skills.

●    The ability to follow instructions.

●    Excellent communication skills.

●    Attention to detail and steady hands.

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