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What is a Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistants assist a range of health professionals such as dentists, dental specialists, oral health therapists and dental therapists. Most of the time, dental assistants work clinically with the dentist delivering patient care, although at times, they may also work independently or in the business aspect of the dental office.  In orthodontic and pediatric practice, the assistant must be able to work well with children and teenagers.

In helping to provide oral surgery treatment , the assistants role resembles that of a surgical nurse, as sterile conditions must be maintained. Dental assistants work in well-lighted and clean environments. Their work area is usually near the dental chair so that they can arrange instruments, materials, and medication, and also hand them to the dentist when needed. Dental assistants graduate from accredited professional programs and take examination for certification or license in their fields.

Dental Assistant vs Hygienist: What is the difference?
You may have wondered about the difference between a hygienist and a dental assistant. Here’s a short explanation. The hygienist is responsible not only for prevention, detection and treatment of periodontal disease, but also for educating patients about the disease and teaching proper home care techniques. During treatment, your hygienist removes plaque, calculus, and stain deposits from your teeth. Her formal education of two or more years also prepares her to recognize other dental problems such as decay.

Prior to your arrival, dental assistant organizes the appropriate material and instruments needed for your procedure. During your visit she will assist the dentist while also attending to your comfort and needs. Her training typically involves a six-month to two-year program, extensive on the job training, and continuing education.