A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant - MedCerts

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Have you ever wondered what working as a dental assistant is like? Well, you're in the right place! Dental assistants are essential to the dental team and ensure patients receive the best dental care possible. This action-packed job requires skill and attention to detail, from interacting with patients to sterilizing equipment. Here's further insight into a typical day in the life of a dental assistant and what this job entails.

Moving on Your Feet a Lot

A typical day as a dental assistant involves being on your feet a lot. This job requires physical activity such as moving around the dental office, assisting patients and helping the dentist during procedures. You’ll either be on the dentist’s side passing a tool or busy in the reception area receiving patients.

These tasks involve standing or moving into and out of rooms. It's, therefore, important to wear comfortable shoes and take breaks throughout the day to avoid getting fatigued.


Dental assistants have to be excellent multitaskers because the job requires them to manage several tasks simultaneously. A typical day involves juggling different roles, like setting up the treatment room, preparing patients for procedures and assisting the dentist during procedures. As a dental assistant, you have to be orderly and prioritize tasks to ensure everything is done efficiently and on time.

Communicating With Patients

Communication is a vital part of the administrative and care aspects of a dental assistant's role. As a dental assistant, you need to be able to communicate effectively with patients, explain procedures and answer any questions they may have.

Patients may feel nervous or anxious during dental procedures. Dental assistants have to showcase patience, empathy, listening skills and the ability to put patients at ease. They’re also required to aptly address concerns patients may have.

Assisting With Procedures

Helping dental practitioners during procedures is one of the primary responsibilities of a dental assistant. This role involves passing instruments to the dentist, keeping the patient's mouth dry and providing suction when necessary. You also retract the patient's cheeks or tongue, mixing dental materials and adjusting the light to provide a clear view.

A dental assistant should stay focused and anticipate what the dentist may need. You also need to be familiar with all the instruments and equipment used during dental procedures.

Preparing and Sterilizing Equipment

Before each procedure, dental assistants are in charge of preparing and sterilizing the instruments and equipment. This role involves cleaning and disinfecting instruments such as dental mirrors, probes and drills to ensure they’re free from microbes. Dental assistants also ensure the equipment is in good working condition and ready to use. As a dental assistant, you have to uphold these standards to keep your patients and workplace safe.

Post-Procedure Cleaning

After each procedure, you’re responsible for cleaning and disinfecting the treatment room. You must also dispose of medical waste properly and ensure everything is ready for the next patient. This post-procedure routine helps prevent the spreading of harmful pathogens.

Get Quality Training as a MedCerts Dental Assistant

Being a dental assistant is a challenging and rewarding career that requires a lot of skill, dedication and patience. Quality training ensures you have the necessary skills to excel in the role. At MedCerts, we offer comprehensive dental assistant training that covers all the essential skills needed to succeed in this job. Consider enrolling at MedCerts if you're interested in pursuing a career as a dental assistant.

Portrait of Jennifer Zabel
Written by Jennifer Zabel
Senior Allied Health Program Developer

Jennifer Zabel joined MedCerts as the Senior Allied Health Program Developer in July 2022. Prior to this role, she was the Director of Clinical Administration at ECPI University and a subject matter expert in the development of MedCerts’ Dental Assistant program.

She holds her Associate’s of Science in Dental Hygiene, a Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences, and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Administration. Jennifer is a seasoned dental professional with work experience as a Certified Dental Assistant, Registered Dental Hygienist, Dental Assistant educator, and academic administrator.

In her free time, Jennifer loves long walks on sunny days, sitting by an open window with a good book and a cup of coffee on rainy days. Her best time is spent with her family.

Published on May 15, 2023


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