A Dental Assistant prepares patients for oral examinations and assists other dental workers like dentists, dental therapists and hygienists in providing treatment to the teeth, gums and mouth. They also carry out administration and reception duties. They may work with just one other person (generally a dentist), or they might work as part of a larger team. They often have to work under pressure as most treatments need to be completed in a certain amount of time.
Oral health is a considered a top priority in today's society as many diseases and infections start in the mouth and can lead to infections in other parts of the body. Dental Assistants are a vital part of any practice and while they usually start off being employed by dentists in public clinics or private practices they can choose to take on further study to become dental hygienists. Others can gain further administrative training and experience to progress to practice management.
While responsibilities vary based on the type of practice, most dental assistants can expect to welcome patients and prepare them for treatment. They may also prepare the surgery by making sure the correct instruments and materials are ready for the operator. Other typical duties include recording findings from oral examinations, providing instruments as the dentist needs them and clearing the patient's mouth of saliva and dental materials by operating hand held suction and water or air-spraying equipment.