In many places around the world, a dental assistant is referred to as a dental nurse. Despite this difference, the role is essentially the same in Europe and North America with many of the same job functions within a dental clinic being carried out. A qualified dental assistant needs to be accredited with a TAFE course, such as HLT35015, which is a level three certificate in dental assisting. Once they are established in their jobs, dental assistants can expect to be paid in the region of $43,000 a year. What do they have to do as a part of their usual workload?
Preparing Technical Equipment
If you have attended dental check ups yourself, then the likelihood is that the technical equipment that has been used during your consultation would have been prepared by a dental assistant. In some cases, dentists may prefer to organise and sterilise their own equipment themselves but, in most cases, a dental assistant will perform this function. The idea is that the dentists will have all the tools they might need during a consultation to hand in order to make the process as quick as possible for the patient.
Passing Items to the Dentist
It might sound simple but a dentist who is using their hands to access the difficult to reach places in your mouth may need an assistant to help pass them the right tool. Special training in what is called the four-handed dentistry technique is required so that this can be conducted smoothly without harming the patient. Dental assistants will undergo this training during their studies.
An experienced dental assistant will often be involved in the production of patient X-rays for the dentist to look at. Again, specialist training in dental radiography is required to ensure that professional and patient safety is maintained while X-rays are taken. These days, a sound working knowledge of digital imaging processes is required by the majority of dental assistants, too.
Alongside their clinical functions, a dental assistant is normally expected to undertake roles in support of the dental clinic they work at. This might mean working on reception from time to time or manning the telephone to field calls and perhaps operating a triage system so that urgent cases are prioritised. Ensuring workplace safety is a job function carried out by many dental assistants, for example by making sure that enough personal and protective equipment is held in stock.