Purpose and Mission
Dental assistants are an important member of the dental health care team. Sometimes called dental nurses, dental assistants perform a number of support roles in working closely with dentists and other members of the team to optimize patient oral health. Of note, motivated dental assistants can train to move up into other roles including dental hygienist, dental technician or dental therapist.
Most dental assistants are employed at dentist’s offices, with some also working in support roles at larger hospitals and clinics with dental operations. This means that most dental assistants report to a more senior member of the oral health team such as a senior dental hygienist, office manager or a dentist/partner in the practice.
Relatively few dental assistants have significant supervisory responsibilities, with the exception of senior assistants helping new assistants learn the ropes of the job at that specific office.
There are no formal legal qualifications to work as a dental assistant in Australia. However, the large majority of employers require employees in this role to hold at least a Certificate III in Dental Assisting.
Both the Certificate III in Dental Assisting and the more advanced Certificate IV can be earned from a number of schools all across Australia.
Responsibilities of a Dental Assistant
The responsibilities of a dental assistant typically relate to infection control, office management and support activities for the delivery of dental health services. Dental assistants work closely with dentists, as well as with dental hygienists, dental therapists and dental prosthetists. The specific tasks assigned to dental assistants varies widely by practice.
Dental assistant responsibilities often include: