What is a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistants are formally educated oral health care professionals and vital members of the oral health care team. Certified dental assistants are often the team member who is instrumental in forging trusting relationships and educating patients from the start to the finish of their appointment, offering comfort and compassion in addition to clinical excellence.

Dentists rely heavily on the knowledge and expertise of certified dental assistants given their broad dental education, up-to-date knowledge of oral health trends through continuing education, and unique skills acquired through collaboration and experience. In addition, certified dental assistants facilitate the work of the dentist and hygienist. 

ODAA regards dental assistants as being both clinical and administrative assistants. Clinical assistants work chairside and are responsible for preoperative and postoperative clinical procedures. They assist the dentist throughout clinical procedures with consistent attention to patient comfort and safety. Certified dental assistants may also be responsible for exposing radiographs, performing intra-oral procedures and maintaining infection control protocols and procedures in accordance with local and provincial guidelines adhering to safety standards.

Administrative dental assistants or dental receptionists perform their duties outside the clinical setting and support office administration and clerical protocols. In addition, certified dental receptionists and certified treatment coordinators form strong relationships with patients, assisting them with insurance claims, scheduling, and referrals while also supporting other office operations.

Dental assistants obtain transferable knowledge and skills that facilitate various employment opportunities in the public health sector, insurance, education, government, sales, and many other service-based occupations and industries. Dental assisting is a recognized profession supported by membership through the ODAA.

See our Scope of Practice for a complete list of duties that Ontario dental assistants can perform.