College of Alberta Dental Assistants

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What Dental Assistants Do

A dental assistant is an oral health professional who provides a range of preventive and educational services to the public. A dental assistant must possess excellent communication skills as well as the ability to work as a team member. The profession requires a dental assistant to have a genuine interest in people.

A dental assistant is educated and taught clinical skills to allow him/her to provide supportive dental care services to maintain and promote oral health. Registration with us is mandatory.

Dental assistants work in a bright, clean environment. Generally, their work area is near the dental chair where instruments, materials, and medicaments are prepared according to each procedure. They wear personal protective equipment including gloves, masks and safety glasses. By following safety procedures for the handling of radiography equipment, dental wastes and Infection Prevention and Control, the potential of risk is minimized. Most dental assistants have a 32 to 40 hour work week, which may include evenings and/or weekends.

Job Outlook

Dental assisting holds an exciting future. There are positions available across the province in rural and urban areas. Post-graduate training (i.e. orthodontic and preventive dentistry [limited scaling] advanced practice) opens new and exciting opportunities for registered dental assistants in this evolving profession.

Employment Opportunities

  • general or specialty private practice
  • Alberta Health Services
  • teaching or assisting in educational facilities
  • Canadian Forces
  • dental product sales
  • dental practice management/administration
  • dental insurance companies
  • denture clinic
  • dental lab
  • travel opportunities may also be available through various international organizations and the Canadian Forces

Responsibilities May Include

  • basic chairside assisting
  • provision of intra-oral services
  • patient education/oral health instruction
  • infection prevention and control in working areas
  • care for equipment and instruments
  • reception and administrative duties