What is a Dental Assistant?
Another excellent question! A dental assistant may have a professional designation, Registered Dental Assistant (RDA), or may not. The duties that a RDA versus just a Dental Assistant (DA) can do differ dramatically. Both are there to assist the dentist with procedures. They will suction, assist with instruments, take molds of the teeth, and make temporary crowns amongst many other things. They can also take x-rays and polish the teeth. The RDA must take a written and practical exam in order to get their license, and is allowed to perform many more duties than a DA without supervision.
What as assistant cannot do is pick up a dental drill and use it in a patient’s mouth. Ever. If this ever happens to you you should leave the office immediately. Dental Assistants are also not allowed to cement crowns or deliver dentures. These are the job of the Dentist. Also, if the dental assistant tries to clean your teeth with instruments, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit. This is the job of the Dental Hygienist (see last week’s posting). A full list of duties must be posted in every dental office, so if you’re ever in doubt, ask. The dentist should be able to explain to you why the task that the dental assistant is doing is legal.
Dental Assistants are fantastic and can help Dentists immensely when utilized correctly. My assistants Lindsey, Christina and Alexis are superb and keep my office running smoothly and efficiently– I appreciate them so much!
Yours in good (dental) health,
Dr. Stefanie Shore, DDS