Can A Medical Assistant Work In A Dental Office?

Western Community College > Blog > Health Care > Can A Medical Assistant Work In A Dental Office?

Medical assistants are trained professionals who perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks in medical settings such as hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. 

While they are typically associated with the medical field, many people wonder if a medical assistant can work in a dental office. The answer is yes, medical assistants can work in a dental office, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind. 

In this article, we will explore the skills and qualifications necessary for medical assistants to work in a dental setting, as well as the potential benefits and challenges of making the transition.

Why are dental assistants essential in a dental clinic?

Dental assistants are essential in a dental clinic for several reasons. They provide valuable support to dentists and dental hygienists, helping to ensure that patients receive the best possible care. Here are some of the reasons why dental assistants are essential in a dental clinic:

  • Patient care: Dental assistants help to prepare patients for treatment, providing assistance during procedures, and providing post-treatment care instructions. They also take and develop X-rays, sterilize instruments, and perform other important tasks that help to ensure the safety and comfort of patients.
  • Administrative tasks: Dental assistants perform a variety of administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and handling billing and insurance claims. This helps to ensure that the clinic runs smoothly and efficiently.
  • Clinical support: Dental assistants provide valuable clinical support to dentists and dental hygienists, helping them to perform procedures more efficiently and effectively. This can include handing them instruments, mixing materials, and providing suction and irrigation during procedures.
  • Improved patient experience: By providing high-quality patient care and excellent customer service, dental assistants help to create a positive patient experience. This can help to build trust and loyalty among patients and contribute to the overall success of the clinic.

The role of a medical assistant at a dental clinic:

A medical assistant at a dental clinic performs a wide range of tasks to support the dental team and ensure the smooth operation of the clinic. Some of the common responsibilities of a medical assistant in a dental clinic may include:

  • Welcoming and assisting patients
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Assisting with dental procedures
  • Taking patient medical histories
  • Educating patients on oral health
  • Managing inventory

Education requirements for a medical assistant at a dental clinic:

The educational requirements for a medical assistant working at a dental clinic may be as followed;

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Medical assistant training program 
  • Dental-specific training
  • Certification

In addition to these educational requirements, medical assistants working in a dental clinic should also have strong communication skills, be attention to details, and have the ability to work well in a team. 

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What makes more a dental assistant or medical assistant?

The salary of a dental assistant versus a medical assistant can vary depending on several factors, including location, experience, and education. However, on average, dental assistants tend to earn more than medical assistants in Canada.

The average salary for a dental assistant is $25.29 per hour in Canada which equates to:

  • $257 per day
  • $1512 per week
  • $5852 per month 
  • $82,647 per year

Whereas, the average salary for a medical assistant is $21.20 per hour in Canada which equates to:

  • $215 per day
  • $895 per week
  • $3464 per month
  • $48,925 Per year

(Source: ca.indeed.com)

What a medical assistant cannot do?

Medical assistants are valuable members of healthcare teams who provide support to physicians and other healthcare professionals. However, there are certain tasks and responsibilities that a medical assistant cannot perform. These may include:

  • Making diagnoses
  • Prescribing medication
  • Performing surgery.
  • Providing certain types of medical advice:
  • Independently interpreting medical test results.

Where do Medical office assistants work?

Medical office assistants work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physician offices
  • long-term care facilities
  • Insurance companies
  • Medical billing companies
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Medical Laboratories
  • Ambulatory healthcare services
  • Chiropractors’ offices
  • Healthcare practitioner offices
  • OB/GYN practices
  • Podiatrists’ offices


In conclusion, while medical assistants and dental assistants share some similarities in their duties, there are distinct differences between the two professions that can make it challenging for a medical assistant to work in a dental office without the proper training and certification. 

Additionally, for dental practices looking to hire a medical assistant, it is essential to ensure that they have the necessary training and certification to perform their duties safely and effectively in a dental office setting. 

Ultimately, by understanding the unique demands and requirements of each profession, both medical assistants and dental assistants can contribute to the success of healthcare facilities and provide quality care to patients.

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