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According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, a dental assistant works next to a dentist during dental procedures and aids him in his work. It’s the dental assistant’s duty to ensure the dentist has the tools he needs to perform a dental procedure. Several kinds of dental tools exist. Although certain tools, such as a drill, are used for more advanced dental procedures, other tools are used for more basic, routine dental care and are set up for the dentist by the dental assistant.
One setup tool the dental assistant usually prepares for the dentist is the mouth mirror. A mouth mirror enables the dentist to easily view the patient’s entire mouth. The mirror provides indirect viewing access and magnifies the mouth's interior. It allows the dentist to clearly see each tooth and its surrounding gum area as the patient’s mouth is prepared for impressions or x-rays. Mouth mirrors come in single-and double-sided versions.
The dentist frequently uses a probe to thoroughly examine a patient’s mouth. A probe is a handheld tool used to identify pits and fissures, caries, and other areas of tooth decay. Probes serve different functions. Contra-angled and briault probes are generally used to identify decay on a tooth's surface, while the periodontal probe determines the evasiveness of periodontal pockets. The dental assistant ensures that the right probe is available for the dentist to use.
Among dental assistants chief responsibilities is patient care. They prep the patient’s mouth for a dental procedure and make the patient comfortable. A pair of tweezers is a common setup tool found near the dental chair. Dental assistants and dentists frequently use college tweezers to manipulate small objects, such as cotton, in a patient’s mouth. Certain types of college tweezers lock once they grab an object so that it doesn't slip from the dental assistant’s or dentist’s grasp.
Providing protective wear is part of the basic setup responsibilities of dental assistants. Most dental assistants and dentists wear a mask and rubber gloves. These prevent the spread of germs and bacteria. In addition, some dental assistants and dentists wear safety glasses or a face shield to avoid getting chemicals and debris in their eyes either when cleaning an instrument or during a dental procedure.
Christie Gross has been writing since 1998. Her work writing public policy platforms for elected officials nationwide has been featured in national and local newspapers under various client pen names. Gross has a Bachelor of Arts in English and political science, as well as a Master of Public Administration from the University of Delaware.