Dental Assistant  What They Do

Just the Facts


Dental Assistants Career Video



Assists dentist, sets up equipment, prepares patient for treatment, and keeps records.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Therapeutic Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Prepares patient, sterilizes or disinfects instruments, sets up instrument trays, prepares materials, or assists dentist during dental procedures.
  • Records treatment information in patient records.
  • Exposes dental diagnostic x-rays.
  • Takes and records medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients.
  • Assists dentist in management of medical or dental emergencies.
  • Provides postoperative instructions prescribed by dentist.
  • Instructs patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs.
  • Orders and monitors dental supplies and equipment inventory.
  • Fabricates temporary restorations or custom impressions from preliminary impressions.
  • Makes preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Exposed to radiation more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) --
  • Expanded Duty Dental Assistant --
  • Oral Surgery Assistant --
  • Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) --