The Knowledge Nook

Top Tools for the Working Dental Assistant

Posted by Tami Russell on Feb 21, 2017 6:30:49 PM


If you’ve ever been a dental patient, you are familiar with the sharp and shiny tools in constant use within a busy dental office. If you are like most of us, you have no idea what each tool is called. 

For the professional dental assistant, however, it’s important to become very familiar with these tools.

Although a dental assistant may be called upon to perform a variety of different duties within a professional dental office, many find themselves working right beside the practice dentist.  Here’s a quick review of some of the tools found in every dental office, from popular dental blog Going Dental.

  • Suction Hose (or saliva ejector) ­–This mini-vacuum sucks up saliva, keeping “the area clean and dry while the dentist is working on the patient.”
  • Air-Water Syringe (or Triplex Syringe) – This air-water syringe blows air, sprays water or delivers a combination into tight spaces in the mouth to clean out the area or dislodge small bits of tooth.
  • High-Volume Evacuator – HVE is a high-speed suction tool and can remove larger particles and more water and saliva.

Other critical instruments in a dental office include

  • Mouth Mirror – Allows the dentist to see specific spots in the mouth.
  • Explorer – This is a probe with a sharp end that a dentist uses to feel around on the surface of teeth
  • College Pliers – Thin, tweezer-like tool that can transport objects from a patient’s mouth
  • Enamel Chisel/Hatchet/Hoe – Cutting tools that scrape enamel from a tooth
  • Amalgam Condenser – A transport for the metal used in fillings
  • Amalgam Carver – A tool that packs the metal used in fillings into place in the tooth
  • Burnisher – A tool that smooths and polishes fillings

Of course, knowing your tools isn't the only requirement of a good dental assistant.  Let's look back at some of the strongest traits of successful dental assistants, and, if you possess these traits, ask yourself if this might be the career for you.

  • Good People Skills
    Are you outgoing, friendly and sociable? Do you possess good people skills?  A Dental Assistant must interact with patients and other dental professionals throughout every business day.  Working in the dental profession is may not be the right fit for someone who does not enjoy human interaction (although we are sure there are crabby people in every profession!)  When hiring, many office managers will seek out positive, outgoing people to staff the office. Favored skills include cheerfulness and a happy demeanor. A happy approach to challenges and clients will go a long way in such a people-centered business.
  • Good Communication Skills
    Good communication skills are a plus in almost every business and almost every type of trade. A well-trained Dental Assistant must be able to communicate information to both fellow dental professionals and to the client in the chair.  Getting the right information to the right person is critical in the health care industry.
  • Ability to Positively Approach a Challenge
    Often, a dental client will not be overjoyed to be in the office, and the procedure they are facing that day might be overwhelming. A positive presence in the treatment room can be very calming to a nervous patient, and this trait will be one your hiring managers will notice.
  • Optimistic and Empathetic and Considerate
    Furthermore, a nervous dental patient will respond to an optimistic and empathetic professional working with him throughout a challenging procedure. Dental Assistants are often the first contact for a patient, and they are often the person who retains a connection throughout the patient’s visit. Acknowledging a patient’s fear of a bad outcome, of possible pain or increasing anxiety, is a plus for the caring Dental Assistant.
  • Well-Organized and Helpful
    If you’ve ever been to the dentist, you’ve no doubt noticed that the treatment area is very organized, with tools close at hand. One of the roles of a Dental Assistant is to maintain this area and to know where equipment is at all times.  The Dental Assistant is helpful to both the professional and the patient, offering comfort, care and assistance.

Does this sound like you?  Find out more about working the the growing dental field.


Topics: dental assistant

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