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Work Environment

Dental assistants may work with dental hygienists and/or dental laboratory technicians. They work in private dental offices, dental schools, hospitals, clinics, and public health settings.

A Day in a Dental Assistant's Life: (Source: About.com Career Planning)
On a typical day a dental assistant who delivers patient care will:

  • make patients as comfortable as possible in the dental chair, prepare them for treatment, and obtain dental records
  • hand instruments and materials to dentists, and keep patients' mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices
  • sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare tray setups for dental procedures, and instruct patients on postoperative and general oral health care
  • sometimes prepare materials for making impressions and restorations, expose radiographs, and process dental x-ray film as directed by a dentist
  • sometimes remove sutures, apply anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place rubber dams on the teeth to isolate them for individual treatment

On a typical day a dental assistant who performs laboratory duties will:

  • make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions
  • clean and polish removable appliances
  • make temporary crowns

On a typical day a dental assistant who performs office duties will:

  • schedule and confirm appointments
  • receive patients
  • keep treatment records
  • send bills and receive payments
  • order supplies and materials