As a dental assistant, your workday will never be dull. Every day in a dental office is jam packed with patients and treatments. If you are considering becoming a dental assistant, what can you expect from a typical day?

Female dental assistant wearing a mask holding a clip board in dental office

Arriving at Work as a Dental Assistant

Many dental offices begin the day with a morning meeting. As a dental assistant, you will participate along with the dentist, hygienists, front office staff, and other assistants. You will likely run down the day’s schedule and treatment plans. A morning meeting is a great opportunity to work as a team and plan how the day will go so everything runs smoothly, and all staff are on the same page.

Time to Prep

Dental assistants will typically start their post-meeting work by prepping the rooms and charts for the dentist based on the patient schedule for the day. You’ll turn on the equipment, flush the water lines and fill water bottles, prepare treatment trays with sterilized instruments, and cover the seats and headrests with paper barriers. The goal is that when the patient and dentist enters the room, everything is ready for them. Dental assistants are a key part of that prep.

Interacting with Patients and Charting

As patients arrive for their treatment, the assistant will greet patients in the waiting room after they’ve checked in and will usually escort them back to the treatment rooms. They’ll get them settled, put on the bib, and run through the patient’s health history. If there are changes since the previous visit, the assistant will make note and record everything in the patient’s chart. If the patient has questions about the procedure, you, as the assistant, will make note and speak to the dentist.

Assisting the Dentist

The hardest part of the job is anticipating the needs of the dentist when you are assisting with a treatment. You’ll hand the appropriate tools to the dentist as needed and take the tools away once they’ve been used or are no longer needed. You’ll provide suction or irrigation when necessary and will help ensure the patient is comfortable. As you get more familiar with the dentist, you’ll be able to better anticipate their needs and this part of the job will get less intimidating and more comfortable. During the day you may be juggling multiple treatment rooms, and you will find that good organizational skills are critical to helping you move smoothly from patient to patient.

Don’t Forget Lunch

Your day as a dental assistant will be busy and filled with patients, but taking a break to fuel and recharge is important! As a team member in a busy office, you will likely stagger your lunch breaks to ensure the office is covered throughout the day. This may mean that you help the other assistants and hygienists to make sure you all get a break. During your break, resist the urge to rush. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your patients. Dental offices understand this and work the schedule to make sure you’ll have that chance.

Closing Down for the Day

When the patient appointments are over and the day is winding down, dental assistants will spend the rest of their workday helping to process patient charts, restocking supplies and office materials for the next day, and helping the front desk staff with their closing procedures. Dental assistants help to make sure the office will be ready to go the next day.

Dental assistants are an integral part of the dental office and will help set the tone for how the day will go. From the prep, to the patient interaction, to the end-of-day procedures, dental assistants are involved in the full scope of the dental office. Becoming a dental assistant is a great choice if you’re looking for a rewarding, in-demand career. To learn more about how to get started, contact South Florida Dental Assisting School today!