A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant

Michelle Schooley has always had a slight obsession with teeth, due to having teeth problems throughout her life. So when a friend raved about how much she loved being a dental assistant, that was all the motivation Michelle needed to enroll in a dental-assisting program during her senior year in high school. She completed the technical program and started her career as a certified dental assistant in 1996.

Michelle soon discovered that being a dental assistant was very busy and demanding work, and she loved it. Her favorite part of the job is the lack of monotony: "There's always a different tooth, a different patient. You have the same procedures, but it's always a different task," she said.

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A typical day

The dental assistant begins each day arriving at work about 30 to 45 minutes early, to stock and prep everything for the day. Dental assistants must make sure that each room is prepared, and that charts, X-rays, and necessary procedural materials, such as bonding agents, are ready. Michelle says there are about 20 things to prepare for each patient and procedure, including bringing the patient to the room, seating them, and putting on their bib. These steps have to be repeated for every patient throughout the day, and oftentimes there are multiple patients being seen simultaneously in different rooms.

Once the room is prepared and the patient is seated, the dental assistant has to inform the dentist that the patient is ready. The assistant then helps the dentist through each step of the procedure. Dental assistants hold the patient's tongue and cheeks back while the dentist works. They rinse the patient's mouth and suction out extra saliva. They provide the dentist with materials as needed. And they help record notes on the patient's chart. Afterward, they have to clean the room and get ready for the next patient.

In addition to preparing for and assisting with procedures, dental assistants often help the front desk staff by calling patients to confirm appointments. They even help send out those friendly reminder cards that we all get in the mail every six months. Dental assistants also help the dental hygienists with developing X-rays and bringing them clean instruments. In fact, dental assistants are responsible for sterilizing instruments for the entire office. They also have to order supplies and make sure the office is fully stocked.

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Always on the go

Needless to say, it's never a dull day in the office. Michelle says that dental assistants rarely sit down. "In school they teach you to sit down," she said, "but you always have to run around and do things for the doctor, so it's just easier to stay standing." Though she enjoys the constant motion of the job, she does admit it can get stressful running around and doing five things at a time all day long.

And then there are the crazy stories. Michelle said she once caught a teenager who was trying to increase his intake on the nitrous oxide tank. She also has seen older dental assistants who were not wearing any gloves. Of course, Michelle properly addressed these situations, being the professional that she is.

Michelle loves the dental care field so much that she recently became a registered dental hygienist. However, she still wears the dental assistant hat sometimes, too. The duties of a dental assistant let her stay busy, while also allowing her to fulfill that long-time obsession with teeth!

Next: Dental Assistant: Is it a Good Career Choice?

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I have been in the dental field for 28 yrs... Each dentist is different and there is no set hourly wage. Specialist do pay more than a general dentist .. Depends on the dentist, patient workload, and duties .. I am sure your instructure can lead you in the right direction.... Good luck, Molly !

July 05 2012 at 9:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 11 2011 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am in school right now for Dental Assisting. I go to my clinicals in July and graduate in October. Any thoughts on what I should ask for as far as pay just starting out? I'm in Ohio.

April 23 2010 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What is Dental Lab Outsourcing?

Take Tree Dental Lab, our headquarter in US for example

 Tree Dental Lab is a full-service laboratory handling every aspect of Cosmetic Dentistry needs; from Crown & Bridge Restorations to Implants to our fantastic Denture & Removables in New Jersey USA.
 Tree Dental Lab has been doing out-sourcing from Mars Dental Lab for 2 years.
 A real process:
Monday: Tree Dental Lab makes a phone call to Fedex and send the impressions to our Lab address in Hong Kong and tell us the tracking numbers via email.
Wednesday: The impressions arrive in Hong Kong Airport, and our staff will go and pick up the cases and bring to our lab in Zhuhai and start production in our lab.
Friday: After production, Mars Dental Lab sends the cases back to USA
Next Monday: Tree Dental Lab will receive the cases back on Monday, so the total turn around time is 7 days.

April 22 2010 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Debby's comment

Dental Partners Lab Allicance
Lab Alliance

Mars Dental Lab discussed the following issues with numerous dental laboratories, dentists and industry leaders in efforts to develop a outsourcing dental business model that would solve as many issues as possible:

1. As outsourcing continues to expand identifying which outsourcing laboratories produce quality products and has the "staying power" to serve long term needs of the dental profession.
2. Filling the demand left from the large number of dental laboratories that will close over the next five years.
3. Shortage of technicians brought on by 25% of the current workforce projected to leave the industry by 2014 and the low number of graduating dental technicians.
4. Significant price pressures throughout the entire dental profession.
After reviewing and analyzing the results of our surveys, there is no doubt that outsourcing is a market trend that will continue to expand. Mars Dental Lab strives to offer our oversea dental partners a wide range of products from our outsourcing lab in China to ensure these products meet the quality standards of the U.S. market and European Markets.

Masr Dental Lab shall offer our Alliance members as follow:
1. Competitive price for all alliance members regardless of volume.
2. No minimum order quantity.
3. Turn around time is 7 to 10 business days according to the location.
4. Initially all cases are sent to our Headquarter in New Jersey U.S. facility providing an opportunity to evaluate our quality and service.
5. Within 30 days all cases will be sent directly from your laboratory to our laboratory facility in Zhuhai, China.
6. We will help your lab to register and get the FDA #numbers enabling you to send cases directly to China.
7. We guarantee our work.
We encourage you to contact us with any questions, comment or enquiry you may have.

Phone: 732 645 2525
Email: marsdentallab@gmail.com

April 22 2010 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Product Catalogue

Mars Dental Lab provides a full range of dental products specialized in crown and bridge, metal frameworks, full and partial dentures, implants, in-cream, e.max crown, AGC foil ceramic, all-ceramic, zirconia, precision attachments and a variety of orthodontic appliance.
Fixed Restoration
Porcelain Fused to Metal
(Crown&Bridge Inlay/Onlay)
PFM non-precious
PFM non-precious(Ni-Pe Free)
PFM Rich Yellow Hight Noble 24K *
PFM White Hight Noble 86.2 Gold *
PFM White Hight Noble 54.2 Gold *
PFM White Hight Noble 40.3 Gold *
PFM White Hight Noble 2.0 Gold *
PFM Semi-Precious *
Metal Try In *
Porcelain Buildup
* Alloy additional:Weight + 20% lost
Full Metal Cast
(Crown&Bridge Inlay/Onlay Post&Core)
FMC non-precious
FMC non-precious(Ni-Pe Free)
FMC Yellow Hight Noble 86.2 Gold *
FMC Whitet Hight Noble 54.2 Gold *
FMC Whitet Hight Noble 40.3 Gold *
FMC Whitet Hight Noble 40.0 Gold *
FMC Whitet Hight Noble 2.0 Gold *
FMC Semi-Precious *
* Alloy additional:Weight + 20% lost
Metal Free Restorations
IPS Empress® 2 Crown & Bridge
IPS Empress® 2 Post/Core
IPS Empress® 2 Esthetic Inlay/Onlay
IPS Empress® 2 Esthetic Veneer
IPS e.max ® ZirCAD Crown & Bridge
IPS e.max ® CAD Crown & Bridge
IPS e.max ® Press Crown & Bridge
Additional Services
Diagnostic Wax-up
Fit to Partial
Soft Tissue
Reduction coping
Gum Porcelain
Change Shade
Processed Temporary
Maryland Bridge
Metal Occlusal
Porcelain Butt Margin
Rest on Corwn
Guide clasp
Removable Denture
Acrylic Teeth Set up
All Acrylic Partial Complete
Base Plate + Bite
Set Up
Denture Complete Upper/Lower
Base Plate + Bite
Set Up Teeth
Valplast Complete
Base Plate + Bite
Set Up
Cast Clasp
Wire Clasp
Cast Rest
Additional Services
Custom Tray
Temporary Acrylic Partial
Esthetic clasp
Add metal
Night guard
Reline Partial
Soft Reline Partial
Stress Breaker
Red Retention Circle
Implant Corwn with Original Implant*
Implant Corwn without Original Implant*
* Alloy additional:Weight + 20% lost
Primary/Secondary Crown Non-precious
Primary/Secondary Crown Precious*
Telescope Coping
CERAMAGE Composite
* Alloy additional:Weight + 20% lost

April 22 2010 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mars Dental Lab International Inc is an outsourcing enterprise providing various dental fabrications. We have long-term business with foreign markets like USA, Canada, Germany, Spain, UK and France. We strive to keep costs low and pride ourselves on having one of the fastest turnover rates in the outsourcing lab industry, but we never sacrifice the quality of our dental products.Throughout the years, we gain appreciations from our clients for our quality products.

Perfection is our passion. We double check every case before it goes out the door to ensure that all are free from defects. Therefore, remakes and adjustments rarely exist in our laboratory. Our philosophy is "Do it right the first time".

Today time has approve to us that outsourcing from Mars Dental enables dental labs oversea to foster and maintain existing customer relationships and grow their customer base. “By outsourcing from Mars dental Lab, my labs have a terrific competitive edge,” Sonny Qiang, Dental Lab Oweners in Tree Dental New Jersey says. “They can leverage their lab resources to serve more customers. No labs need to turn good dental outsourcing business away any longer.”

Our Mission
Mars Denal Lab’s mission is simple: to serve as an outsourcing supercenter, offering dental labs with dental cases of the state of art dental techonology at competitive price and prompt delivery. Our general turn around time is 7 to 8 days from the time you send your cases to China to the date you get cases back in USA

April 22 2010 at 3:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am currently working in Mars Dental Lab from China. Is anybody here interested in getting a very easy part time Job here? Our Lab specialized in providing outsourcing solutions to dental Labs or dentists oversea!

In other words, we sell crown and bridge and all kinds of dentures to USA. PFM (Non Precious) $23 to $32 per Unit based on the quantities Labs or Dentist ordered per month.

PFM(NP) $23
Post And Core (NP) $8
Porcelain Only/ Metal Try In $11
Maryland Bridge (One Pontic Two Wing) $36
Add Wing/Np $6
Add Wing (Ceramic) $8
Porcelain Butt Margin $5
Temporary Crown (Pro-v) $8
Post Crown (NP) $27
Implant Custom Abutment (SP) $40
Implant Cement Retained PFM (NP) $27
Implant Screw Retained PFM (Gold Alloy Extra By Weight) $40
Implant Tissue Model $5
Captek $90
Full Metal Crown (NP) $18
Metal Inlay/Onlay (NP) $17
Cercon (Zirconia) $99
Cercon (Coping) $89
Emax // Empress II $59
Empress Inlay/Onlay/Veneer $55
Empress Crown $55
Full Denture Try In (Not Including Teeth) $22
Full Denture Finish $22
Partial Try In (Not Including Teeth) $16
Partial Finish $16
Valplast Try In (Not Including Teeth) $22
Valplast Finish $44
Hard Night Guard $18
Soft Night Guard $28
Surgical Stent $28
Re-Base $28
Re-line $38
Bleaching Trays $13
Custom Tray $8
Base Plate + Bite Rim $7
Valplast Clasp $8
Add lucitone 199 $8
Framework $28
Partial Set Up To Framework $14
House Brand Teeth $2
Partial Finish To Framework $14
Flipper (Up To Two Teeth) $17
Wrought Wire Clasp $2
Clear Clasp $15

April 22 2010 at 2:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have had to change dentists SEVERAL TIMES due to their lying.
My brother has had to also. THEY GET YOUR CONFIDENCE AND THEN THE LIES START, You come come in and they start telling him he has decay.



I TOOK TOOTHPASTE, TOOTHBRUSH, FLOSS TO WORK, AND still I had decay -- he was a lying piece of crap along with the otherz!!

April 22 2010 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


He was our dentist for DECADES!!

April 22 2010 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Denise, I got a SECOND-OPINION, what does that tell you?

Their liars, Please don't defend them.

AND no, of course not, I was not shown the x-ray!
I flossed & brushed often, I thought I would hear, how well my mouth looked to them, but no. I got my first cavaty after my braces were taken off at the age of 15. I took care of my mouth. I no longer trust dentists, I'm afraid of them, they scare me. They are not friendly at all.

I needed a mouth gaurd for grinding so I asked him for the r-rays to take them to the doc that was making it, the stupid dentist then said to me, "Well, I could make U one" The piece crap didn't see that could have been $$ in his pocket and never gave me the better service till I brought it up!!

They are just so ready to tell you, you have decay.

I hate them all & they scare me!!

They do this to my brother also. He lies that he has no insurance so they will stop houndiing him for them to do other things. He pays cash. He later told them he had ins, he paid cash, BUT THE DENTIST ALSO CHARGED HIS INSURANCE, WHAT A RAT.

I've discovered A LOT OF DENTISTS ARE RATS & LIARS. WE keep having to change becuz they lie to us telling us we have decay AND WE DON'T.

I want to expose them all. The process is unfair.

I got a form from the ADA. It asks if I tried to settle this with them. HOW DO YOU SETTLE WHEN THEY ALREADY FILLED YOUR TEETH. I didn't trust them to go ahead with it. I was in school and worked full time -- I had 18 hr days till I went to bed!

When I did have a problem, he wasn't good at finding it & made me feel like I was crazy. He finally figured out the problem. I pointed out which tooth hurt -- he said I grinded the tooth down and took care of that.

EVERY TIME, I go in, the cap NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. They R always finding ways to get $$$ outa ppl, Their all RATS!!

The RAT, told his lady help to prep me, WITHOUT TALKING TO ME, FIRST. That is the day i came in & decided beforehand that he was going to do NO MORE DRILLING ON ME!!




April 22 2010 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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