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Dental Assistant Program

By allied health world contributing writer

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What can be expected from dental assistant clinical training?

Dental assistant programs can be thought of as providing training for three basic job function components: clinical, laboratory, and administrative. Each component is extremely important to the daily duties of dental assistants, and together these three components provide a fully inclusive description of a dental assistant’s job.


The clinical component of dental assistant programs would teach the skills vital to the dental work performed on the patient. Among these courses would be classes that teach the methods of sterilization and disinfection of dental instruments and Dental Assistant programsequipment. Dental assistants would also receive some radiologic training so as to allow them to safely perform and process x-ray images of patients’ teeth and surrounding skeletal anatomy.

Students of these programs can also expect to graduate with plenty of experience in suture removal, which is commonly performed during post-operative follow up visits, as well as placement of rubber surgical dams used during surgery to isolate the teeth being worked on. The clinical component will also include training in the use and application of topical anesthetics to mitigate or eliminate pain and discomfort for patients when they undergo dental surgery.

What does dental assistant laboratory training consist of?

In the dynamic professional life of dental assistants, they are often called upon to step away from their chair-side position to perform duties behind the scenes. The work that is done by dental assistants behind the closed doors of clinical laboratories may be counted among some of the most important duties they perform. This is largely because of how it will affect a patient in the course of their daily lives in the weeks and months to follow.

The most common task performed by dental assistants in the laboratory is the manufacture of temporary crowns to be used immediately following endodontic surgery (root canal therapy), or in the event a tooth is damaged or an existing crown is broken or becomes detached. Lab training will teach students how to work with technologically advanced synthetic materials to create a properly fitting temporary crown with both function and patient comfort in mind.

Dental assistant training in lab work will also teach students about making casts of patients’ mouths from impressions taken of their teeth. This is done to allow dentists an opportunity to present the patient with a three-dimensional model when discussing the possibility of alignment procedures or surgery. Dental assistants will also receive laboratory training in how to clean and polish removable dental work.

What administrative training do dental assistants receive?

On occasion dental assistants can perform some administrative office duties; however, it is becoming more common for successful dental practices to hire a receptionist to perform many of these duties. Still, many dental assistant programs will teach some phone and secretarial skills for the purpose of patient scheduling.


The administrative duties performed by today’s dental assistants more frequently include dental medical record maintenance. Classes in records maintenance are designed to teach students how to keep updated patient treatment records that are inclusive of all relevant information that might include vital life-saving information describing allergies the patient might have to anesthetics or materials commonly used in dental procedures.

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