Dental Careers

Dental Hygienist Job Description

A career as a dental hygienist offers a wide range of challenges. In the dental office, the dentist and the dental hygienist work together to meet the oral health needs of patients. Since each state has its own specific regulations regarding their responsibilities, the range of services performed by hygienists varies from state to state. Some of the services provided by dental hygienists may include:

  • patient screening procedures; such as assessment of oral health conditions, review of the health history, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection, dental charting and taking blood pressure and pulse
  • taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
  • removing calculus and plaque (hard and soft deposits) from all surfaces of the teeth
  • applying preventive materials to the teeth (e.g., sealants and fluorides)
  • teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health;
    (e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
  • counseling patients about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
  • making impressions of patients' teeth for study casts (models of teeth used by dentists to evaluate patient treatment needs)
  • performing documentation and office management activities

Dental assistants greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of quality oral health care and are valuable members of the dental care team. If you have strong communication skills, enjoy working with your hands as well as your mind and want a career with responsibility, dental assisting is for you.

Dental Assistant Job Description

The duties of a dental assistant are among the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office. The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Although state regulations vary, responsibilities may include:

  • assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures
  • taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
  • asking about the patient's medical history and taking blood pressure and pulse
  • serving as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
  • helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment
  • providing patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling)
  • teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health;
    (e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling)
  • taking impressions of patients' teeth for study casts (models of teeth)
  • performing office management tasks that often require the use of a personal computer
  • communicating with patients and suppliers (e.g., scheduling appointments, answering the telephone, billing and ordering supplies)
  • helping to provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery

Lab Technician Job Description

Dental Laboratory Technology is both a science and an art. Since each dental patient's needs are different, the duties of a dental laboratory technician are comprehensive and varied. Although dental technicians seldom work directly with patients, except under the direction of a licensed dentist, they are valuable members of the dental care team. They work directly with dentists by following detailed written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient's teeth or oral soft tissues to create:

  • full dentures for patients who are missing all of their teeth
  • removable partial dentures or fixed bridges for patients who are missing only one or a few teeth
  • crowns, which are caps for teeth that are designed to restore their original size and shape
  • veneers that enhance the esthetics and function of the patient
  • orthodontic appliances and splints to help straighten and protect teeth

Dental technicians work with a variety of materials including waxes, plastics, precious and non-precious alloys, stainless steel, a variety of porcelains and composites or polymer glass combinations. Many technicians acquire skill in the use of sophisticated instruments and equipment while performing laboratory procedures. It is important for the technician to help create tooth replacements that are both attractive and functional.

 

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