Dental assistants are a huge asset to dentists and they occupy an important place in the dental profession, performing essential tasks in a vital role within the dental health industry. The ways in which they assist dentists are numerous and varied, but they are essentially the “go-to” person for the dentist – before, during, and after the dentist performs his or her procedures.
In many ways the dental assistant becomes an extra set of hands and eyes for the dentist. Before the patient undergoes a procedure performed by the dentist, for example, the assistant will prepare the area, find the proper dental tools and instruments, and lay out a tray so that these sterilized instruments are close at hand and carefully organized. The dental assistant is the one responsible for keeping the patient’s mouth clean – so while the dentist is doing such things as drilling, filling, or repairing teeth the dental assistant will hold a suction tube in the patient’s mouth and move it around to drain saliva and other fluid.
The dental assistant will also use an air and water tool to inject a stream or spray of water into the mouth, for the purpose of cleaning and rinsing. So while the dentist is working the assistant is constantly responsible for rinsing and washing and then drying the area where the efforts of the dentist are focused. Throughout the whole time that the dentist is examining the patient or performing some kind of dental procedure or surgery, the dental assistant is there to offer feedback, look after the patient, and make sure that whatever the dentist may need is quickly handed to him or her. Thanks to the help of the assistant the dentist can work much faster and be more effective.
Dental assistants also help to explain procedures to the patient and perform educational functions. They will teach patients how to properly care for their teeth with the right brushing and flossing techniques or help by showing them how to care for themselves during dental surgery recovery periods. Sometimes it is the dental assistant who has more face to face interaction with the patient than the dentist actually does, so their role in the dentist office is one of increasing importance and professional responsibility.