An orthodontic assistant is a specialized dental assistant who works with patients wearing braces and other mouth gear. This position involves assisting the orthodontist as a second pair of hands with emphasis on patient comfort and satisfaction. The orthodontic assistant is deeply involved in patient care, from sanitizing and preparing instruments to maintaining patient records.
The orthodontic assistant prepares patients for examination, keeping them as relaxed and comfortable as possible. This person works chair-side under direct supervision of a licensed orthodontist performing a variety of tasks. Orthodontic assistants have a working knowledge of all instruments used in orthodontic care and familiarity with standard orthodontic procedures, techniques and methods.
The responsibilities of an orthodontic assistant include:
• Cleaning and sanitizing instruments
• Preparing the orthodontist's work area
• Performing clinical procedures
• Making dental impressions
• Taking X-rays
• Suture removal
• Placing rubber isolation dams on teeth
• Communicating with patients
• Instructing patients on after-care
• Minor housekeeping
• Assisting office staff with patient records
The orthodontic assistant has close, personal contact with patients. This demands a high level of maturity, integrity, honesty, ethics and responsibility. Good hand-eye coordination, visual memory and judgment of space are vital. An assistant is sitting for most work, often for long periods. On occasion, lifting and operating office machinery are required. Answering telephones and maintaining patient records is not outside the scope of this position. An orthodontic assistant must be a team player, working closely with the orthodontist and other staff members.
An associate's degree in dental assisting is required for this career. Successful candidates for jobs will have completed an orthodontist assistant program to gain knowledge of advanced dental specialties.
State licensure and registration as a dental assistant are required, as is a working knowledge of various orthodontic tools and dental radiology, as well as X-ray experience. Previous experience in an orthodontic office is preferred. Orthodontic assistants will have CPR experience and a current CPR certification.
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