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Dental Assistant
Dental assistants help the dentist perform dental procedures. They work beside dentists while they examine and treat patients.

Assistants meet and greet patients, put them at ease, see that they are comfortable and prepare them for examination, treatment or surgical procedure.

They draw patients' records from the filing system. During dental procedures, assistants help patients rinse and clean their mouths and pass instruments to the dentist in the correct sequence. They prepare solutions, filling and impression materials and injections.

Dental assistants ensure good illumination for their dentists by adjusting the light above the patient. Dental assistants may not take x-rays but may be responsible for the developing and filing of them. They are responsible for the sterilisation of instruments and maintenance of dental equipment. If the employer does not have a receptionist, the dental assistant also performs general office duties, including keeping patients' dental and personal details up-to-date. They are responsible for stock keeping and placing orders with supply houses and other suppliers.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with people in the health field without needing advanced education
- good employment opportunities
- job security
- variety of work

Demanding aspects
- dealing with unpleasant or rude patients
- working under pressure
- having to stand for long periods

A dental assistant should:
- have manual dexterity;
- have good vision and hearing;
- be professional and discreet;
- be able to put people at ease;
- be friendly and courteous;
- be discreet and even-tempered;
- be neat and well-groomed.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Diploma: Dental Assistant courses are offered at CPUT, CUT and TUT, and Dental Services at DUT.

A dental assistant may be employed without any specific training but someone with a diploma or certificate would have an advantage. AOL, a division of Afrox, has developed a course for in-house training.

- Private dental practises
- Hospitals
- Clinics
- Government departments

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338 9300
Fax: (012) 328 5120

South African Dental Association (SADA)      
Private Bag 1
Houghton, 2041
Tel: (011) 484 5288
Fax: (011) 642 5718
Toll Free: 0800 11 07 25