Schools Training

Becoming a Dental Administrative Assistant

13 MAR 2013
Career Path : Dental Care

Looking forward to your next dentist appointment? Not likely. Many of us associate such visits with lying back helpless under a bright interrogation light as sharp silver tools with grinding machinery bring impending pain. A major part of the dental assistant’s role is being the cheerful, calming influence that reduces a patient’s anxiety and fear of dentistry as much as possible. After some soothing words and perhaps holding a child’s hand on a tour of the office, the patient is smiling and ready for the dentist to operate in peace. The dental administrative assistant needs to work well with everyone in the office and juggle multiple duties behind the scenes to make the dentist’s job as easy as possible.

Clinical Duties

In many ways, the dental assistant is the communication link between the dentist and patient, easing the latter’s concerns by providing necessary information and asking questions about medical history prior to examination. They help the patient get comfortable before treatment and explain what will happen during the operation. Usually assistants are involved in sterilizing and preparing equipment, fetching and updating patient records, preparing rooms and instrument trays for individual treatments. They serve as an extra set of hands during procedures, helping chair-side by operating the suction machinery that keeps the patient’s mouth clear of blood and saliva, taking and developing X-rays, and perhaps taking blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Some assistants will be given responsibility for placing a rubber dam in the patient’s mouth, making temporary crowns or removing plaque. Assistants can keep observation nearby while the dentist is out of the room after administering anesthesia and monitor progress in a patient’s condition.

Administrative Duties

Dental assistants perform a variety of duties involved in running the office, scheduling appointments, maintaining patient records and managing billing. There are telephones to answer, office and clinical supplies to order, insurance forms to fill, correspondence and bookkeeping to handle. This requires a certain level of computer and accounting proficiency, managing client databases and billing software. Not only must they learn quickly but also be able to manage a variety of tasks at any given moment. Many offices have more than one dentist on duty and the assistant may have to work with both as the need arises.

Training and Industry Outlook

The demand for both dental and medical office assistants is strong as more middle-aged individuals are keeping their natural teeth and there has been greater focus on preventative care for children. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, employment of dental assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Dental administrative assistant programs combine office training with comprehensive healthcare courses followed by on-site work experience in an approved clinical facility. Students learn to perform many routine tasks in an office and making the patient’s experience as painless as possible.


Visit Academy of Learning College for more information on dental administrative assistant and IT schools.