Dental assistants are responsible for a variety of tasks in the dental or dental specialist’s office. The job responsibilities vary depending on the office, the certification requirements of the state, and the training and certification level of the individual assistant.

Dental assistants provide patient care and chair-side support as dentists complete exams and procedures, as well as various office and laboratory duties.

Where can Dental Assistants work?

  • Solo dental practices

  • Group dental practices

  • Specialty practices, such as oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics, endodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, and pediatric dentistry

  • Public health dentistry (schools and clinics which focus on the prevention of dental problems within entire communities)

  • Hospital dental clinics (assisting dentists in the treatment of bedridden patients)

  • Dental school clinics (assisting dental students as they learn to perform dental procedures)

Differences between Dental Assistants and Dental Hygienists:

Dental assistants and dental hygienists are different jobs requiring different training and certification.


Although state regulations vary, responsibilities of a Dental Assistant as outlined by the American Dental Association (ADA) include, but aren't limited to:

  • Assisting a dentist with treatments and procedures

  • Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair

  • Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures

  • Taking and developing dental radiographs (depending on state requirements)

  • Communicating post-surgery instructions to patients

  • Instruct patients on proper oral hygiene

  • Preparing and sterilizing dental instruments and equipment

  • Keep records of dental treatments

  • Schedule patient appointments

  • Work with patients on billing and payment


  • Valid photo ID (ex: drivers license, passport, state ID)

  • Current BLS

  • TB screening

  • Certification or Registration (per state requirements)


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