Orthodontic assistants work alongside orthodontists to provide them with logistical support in many aspects of patient care and procedures. The foremost duty of an orthodontic assistant is to make patients feel comfortable by providing them with information regarding procedures. They interview patients and record their medical histories. They also assess patients by examining them and determining their needs for orthodontic care.
There are no formal education requirements for an orthodontic assistant beyond a high school diploma. Most of the training is given on the job. However, completing a certificate program in orthodontics or dental assisting can lead to better opportunities for work. Some practices prefer hiring people with an associate’s degree in orthodontics but that really is a personal preference.
To work as an orthodontic assistant, you have to be skilled in a number of areas. You have to have a gentle personality – patients are terrified of dental procedures and it is up to you to make them feel comfortable before and during a dental procedure. You will also need to be thorough in all procedures that you handle – constant sterilization of instruments and examination rooms is imperative so you will have to be on your toes all the time.
• Greet patients and interview them to determine their reason for visiting the dentist
• Take patients’ histories and ensure that they are properly recorded in their files
• Provide information regarding procedures and processes that the facility offers
• Detail patient information to orthodontist and discuss care plan
• Prepare examination and procedure rooms by ensuring that all amenities and supplies are available
• Sterilize equipment and instruments and ensure that appropriate tray setup is maintained
• Provide chairside assistance by handling orthodontists their instruments during procedures and surgeries
• Take dental x-rays and facial photographs as part of the dental intervention procedure
• Perform administrative duties such as setting up appointments and following up on them
• Take payments for orthodontic procedures performed and contact insurance companies to have claims paid
• Assist in handling staff and patient records by ensuring complete confidentiality
• Handle minor housekeeping duties to ensure that the facility is kept clean and sterilized on a constant basis
• Perform minor orthodontic procedures such as suture removal and rubber isolation dams placement
• Make impressions of teeth for mouth guards and other oral fixtures
• Educate patients in performing post procedural care
• Take and respond to incoming telephone calls and provide information regarding facility services and timings