Assistants, Dental

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Assistants, Dental

Assistants, Dental - Working Conditions

In a typical work setting, dental assistants:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have a high level of social interaction with patients, dentists, and office staff.
  • Are greatly responsible for the health and safety of dental patients.
  • Often deal with patients that are unpleasant, angry, or discourteous.
  • Are responsible for the work outcomes of others.
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  • Work as part of a team.
  • Communicate with others in person, by telephone, and by e-mail every day.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Always work indoors.
  • Wear protective clothing daily such as masks, safety glasses, and rubber gloves.
  • Are often exposed to diseases, infections, and contaminants when working with patients or preparing filling material.
  • Are sometimes exposed to radiation when x-raying teeth. However, dental assistants wear protective gear when operating x-ray equipment.
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  • Work very closely with other people and have little space between themself and others.
  • Are occasionally exposed to noises that are uncomfortable, such as dental drills.

Work Performance

  • Must be very exact and accurate in their work and be sure all details are done. Errors could endanger patients' health.
  • Repeat the same tasks each day, such as handling instruments and operating x-ray equipment.
  • Often make decisions that affect other people.
  • Can set most tasks and goals without talking to a supervisor.
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  • Work in a somewhat competitive environment and meet weekly and daily deadlines.
  • Make most decisions without talking to a supervisor.


  • May work part time or full time. Less than 40 hours a week is more common.
  • Work a regular, set schedule each week.
  • May work evenings or Saturdays at offices that keep longer hours.
Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.