Scope of Practice
As multi-skilled professionals, dental assistants possess a diverse knowledge base. They effectively perform clinical and administrative procedures through assignment and delegation of duties and responsibilities within provincial legislation.
Dental assistants practice effective interpersonal skills and maintain collaborative relationships with all members of the oral health care team. They are skilled at using technology for communication, exercising critical thinking and decision-making abilities and applying dental knowledge to clinical situations. Their education, training, professionalism and experience, coupled with provincial registration and licensing, qualify them to perform a variety of supportive and direct patient care procedures.
Dental assistants prepare and support patients for treatment by practising universal precautions and infection control, organising armamentarium, attending to patients’ comfort and collecting and updating health histories. Dental assistants also assist with and perform a variety of clinical procedures. Using four or six-handed dentistry they assist the operator with the administration of anaesthetics, dental speciality and general dentistry procedures. They perform preventive, orthodontic, and prosthodontic intra-oral procedures as well as post treatment care. These may include selective coronal polishing, preliminary impressions, dental dams and fluoride application.
Dental assistants expose, process and mount dental radiographs for use in dental treatment. They produce records such as dental photographs and study models to aid in diagnosis. Dental assistants support clinical treatment procedures by performing certain laboratory functions. They fabricate study models and appliances as well as perform minor repairs. Dental assistants are responsible for routine maintenance of instruments and equipment in a dental practice. It is vital that instruments and equipment are in proper working order so that patient care can be delivered safely and effectively.
Dental assistants may also perform basic practice management procedures. These may include maintaining inventory of dental supplies, managing patients’ appointments or maintaining financial records.
Dental assistants provide oral self-care, disease prevention, post-operative care, nutritional counselling and health education to patients and groups.
As new technologies emerge, dental assistants’ scope of practice continually evolves. For this reason, dental assistants have a professional responsibility to learn about new technologies, to consider the impact of these new technologies on the dental profession and their own scope of practice, participate actively in their professional associations and upgrade their skills as regulations change.
CDAA National Occupational Analysis (2007) – lists in detail the allowable skills in each province. This is for reference purposes only. Please contact your dental assisting regulatory authority in your province for further information.