What Do Orthodontic Assistants Do?

If you have a passion for orthodontics and want to help people achieve their dream smiles, consider becoming an orthodontic assistant. Orthodontic assistants work closely with orthodontists to help patients achieve straight teeth. As an orthodontic assistant, you are responsible for various tasks, including:

Greeting Patients and Scheduling Appointments

When a patient comes in, an orthodontic assistant is their first point of contact. You should make them feel comfortable and welcome. You answer the questions the patient has and address their concerns. 

Assistants schedule appointments and make follow-ups with patients. After the initial consultation, you plan the patient’s next appointment for the next available time slot. You send reminders for upcoming meetings and reschedule patients who need to cancel appointments.

Preparing Patients for Orthodontic Procedures 

As an orthodontic assistant, you prepare patients for their procedures by doing tasks such as:

  • Cleaning and Sterilizing Dental Instruments

Assistants sterilize all dental instruments that orthodontists use during a patient’s procedure. You keep the treatment area clean and ready for the patient. This involves wiping down surfaces, disposing of sharp objects, and verifying that there is a fresh supply of gloves, masks, and other personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Applying Topical Numbing Agents to the Gums

Since some orthodontic procedures are painful, you typically apply a topical numbing agent to the patient’s gums before the process begins. This helps them to minimize discomfort during the procedure.

  • Documenting the Patient’s Medical History

You collect the patient’s medical history before each procedure and document it in the patient’s chart for the orthodontist to review. This includes information about any allergies, past treatments, and current medication.

  • Taking X-Rays

As an orthodontist assistant, you take dental x-rays of the patient’s teeth and surrounding structures. These x-rays are used to diagnose orthodontic problems and plan treatment. 

Applying and Removing Orthodontics Devices 

Orthodontic assistants apply orthodontic devices such as brackets, bands, and wires to the patient’s teeth. You remove these devices when the patient’s treatment is complete. 

Applying orthodontic appliances requires a great deal of precision, so assistant orthodontists must follow orthodontists’ instructions carefully. Removing devices is a delicate process. You must not damage the patient’s teeth or gums when removing appliances. 

Providing Patient Care and Education 

You provide patient care and education throughout the orthodontic treatment process. This includes teaching patients how to brush and floss their teeth. You answer any questions the patient has about their treatment.

As an assistant orthodontist, you educate patients on what to expect after treatment. You provide information on how to avoid common orthodontic problems, like tooth decay and gum disease, in the future. 

Maintaining Treatment Records and Schedules 

Part of your job as an orthodontic assistant is maintaining accurate treatment records and schedules of all patients. You document each patient’s appointments, procedures, and progress in their chart. 

Schedule future appointments and update the patient’s records as needed. This helps monitor each patient’s progress and make necessary adjustments to treatment plans.

Ordering Orthodontic Supplies 

As an orthodontist assistant, you place orders for orthodontic supplies. This includes ordering brackets, bands, wires, retainers, and other orthodontic appliances. You may order dental x-ray film and processing supplies for the office. 

Billing Patients and Insurance Companies 

Orthodontic assistants bill patients and insurance companies for services rendered. This includes preparing invoices, filing insurance claims, and collecting payments. You answer patient billing questions and resolve any billing issues that arise.

Handling Orthodontic Office Correspondence  

As an orthodontic assistant, you handle office correspondence, like answering phone calls, replying to emails, and sorting mail. You handle these requests per the office policy.

Maintaining Orthodontic Equipment and Instruments 

Assistants maintain orthodontic equipment in good working condition. You clean and sterilize all appliances after each use. 

Assistants can perform routine maintenance on orthodontic equipment, like X-ray machines and computers. You troubleshoot equipment problems and contact orthodontic equipment repair technicians when necessary.

Run an Orthodontics Practice as an Orthodontic Assistant

Orthodontic assistants perform both clinical and administrative work in an orthodontics practice. As an orthodontic assistant, you prepare patients for treatment, handle office correspondence, and maintain accurate financial records. If you’re interested in a career in orthodontics, working as an orthodontic assistant is a great way to get started. Find an orthodontist’s office to learn more.