Dental Assistants

Last updated January 01, 2015

The dentist has just sutured (stitched up) a patient’s gums and wants you to clean the area with a handheld suction device and a water-spray. Next you’re off to remove sutures from a patient in another room. After that, you’ll sterilize dental instruments for still another procedure. 

These are just some of the tasks you’ll perform as a dental assistant. Preparing patients for treatment and making sure they’re comfortable throughout a procedure is also a key part of the job.

Dental assistants work side by side with dentists to perform a wide range of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. Responsibilities range from preparing trays of instruments to making temporary crowns.

Did You Know?

Individual states have different standards for dental assistants, but many require certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

Are You Ready To...?

  • Work chairside with a dentist as a third hand and sometimes a second set of eyes
  • Protect yourself from patients' infectious diseases by wearing gloves, masks, and special clothing
  • Perform office work
  • Chat with patients
  • Take x-rays
  • Make casts of teeth

It Helps To Be...

Reliable, able to work well with others, and quick and agile with your hands. If you’ve been in sync with a lab partner in biology or chemistry, or even worked in a restaurant kitchen, you’ve already experienced some of the skills necessary for dental assistants.

Make High School Count

  • Take plenty of math and science courses.
  • Enhance your communication skills through English composition, drama, and speech classes.
  • Study a foreign language so you'll be able to communicate with more patients.
  • Volunteer at a dental clinic.

Did You Know?

Many dental assistants go back to school to become dental hygienists.