Dental Assistant FAQ

Are you interested in becoming a dental assistant? Many dental assistants have strong communication skills, enjoy working with their hands, and like the responsibilities of their career. The duties of dental assistants are varied and involve clinical and clerical tasks. If you’re interested in becoming a dental assistant, read on to learn more about working in this field.

What are the different job responsibilities for a dental assistant vs dental hygienist?


Can a dental assistant make temporary crowns?

Making temporary crowns is a function beyond the scope of an entry level Dental Assistant and requires additional training.

How can a dental assistant get an x-ray license?

Taking x-rays is usually a part of being a dental assistant and many programs teach radiology as a part of dental assistant coursework. In some states, the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) assessment is recognized or required for dental assistants. This assessment will insure that a dental assistant understands the necessary skills to take x-rays.The Dental Assisting Program at Midwest Technical Institute (MTI) teaches students to take x-rays – additional education is not required to sit for the exam from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

What does a military dental assistant do?

A dental assistant in the Army is called a dental specialist. In the Air Force and Navy they are referred to as dental assistants. Typically, training to become a dental assistant will take an additional 8 weeks after a recruit completes 8-10 weeks of basic training in the military. This length of training may depend on the chosen branch of the military.The skills learned will include preventative dentistry, dental office procedures, x-ray techniques, dental hygiene procedures. The job duties of a dental specialist in the military are similar to those in the civilian world, including assisting the dentist and completing office tasks.

Can a dental assistant work in orthodontics?

Yes, a dental assistant can work in orthodontics but the skills required are somewhat different. The skills to work in orthodontics can be learned on the job or through a training program. The Dental Assisting National Board certifies dental assistants and orthodontic assistants and tracks which states allow on-the-job training for orthodontic assistants instead of requiring certification.

Do dental assistants help with oral surgery?    

Oral surgeon assistants are dental assistants who have chosen to specialize in oral surgery. The role of an oral surgery assistant includes acting as another set of hands during surgery, preparing all the necessary equipment and helping patients understand their dental procedures before and after the procedure happens.

What are the job duties of a dental assistant vs a dental technician?

A dental assistant works with patients both in a clerical and clinical setting. This includes assisting the dentist, helping patients feel comfortable, scheduling appointments and maintaining records. A dental technician constructs, fits, and repairs dental equipment including dentures, orthodontics, crowns, bridges, and implants and may use wax, alloy, ceramic, plastic, and porcelain in their job. These skills are usually learned on the job, and though certifications are available, they aren’t usually required for dental technicians. A dental technician works in a lab with small hand tools on various phases of production from creation to testing, but does not typically interact with patients.

Is back pain common for dental assistants?

Many people in the dental profession deal with back pain. Staying physically fit, practicing good ergonomics and maintaining proper posture can be helpful for preventing back pain. Regular stretching and exercise are also recommended.

Beginning Your Career as a Dental Assistant Starts With The Right Training