Dental assistants are responsible for assisting the dentist and dental hygienist with a number of tasks. It’s a very hands-on, patient-centric career that requires skill, education and compassion.
But did you know that dental assistants can be skilled in a number of different dental care specialties that focus on patients of various ages and backgrounds? If you’re considering a career as a dental assistant, check out these other specialties to learn more about the profession.
Dental assistants who focus on cosmetic dentistry work with patients who need a range of services and applications, such as teeth whitening, bonding, veneers, implants or fillings. They take oral photographs and impressions for study models to help in the diagnosis of treatment, work on dental bleaching and the fabrication of provisional crowns.
In pediatric dentistry, the dental assistant will help a child feel comfortable in the dental chair and are often the first person a child interacts with during their appointment. The dental assistant will provide the child and parent with oral hygiene education, such as proper brushing techniques, and have an understanding of how babies’ and children’s teeth are still developing, which means different care is needed versus that for adults. The dental assistant will help apply fluoride or sealants for children during procedures with a dentist.
In orthodontics (the use of braces to help straighten crooked or misaligned teeth) the dental assistant will assist the orthodontist in the placement, adjustment and removal of braces. They also take dental impressions for fabrication of orthotic appliances and provide a patient with proper brushing and care information while they’re wearing braces.
Dental assistants who assist in prosthodontics are responsible for taking dental impressions for customized removable or permanent dental prosthetics. Prosthodontics involves the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and maintenance of oral implants for those who have missing or deficient teeth. While people of all ages and backgrounds may need dental prosthetics, seniors are often in need of them.
Endodontics is a dental specialty that involves the treatment of dental pulp. It’s most often associated with root canal treatment, but can also focus on the treatment of cracked teeth, oral surgery and other procedures. Dental assistants who assist in an endodontic treatment will provide the dentist with the equipment and implementations he or she needs during a procedure, informs the patient of what’s happening, step by step, prepares filling material to treat a tooth and provides any other assistance the dentist may need.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Dental Assistants, on the internet at http://www. bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm