Essential Functions of a Dental Assisting Student

Essential functions are those considered to be necessary or fundamental to performance of a job.  In postsecondary education, the student’s job is to learn and participate in an academic environment and the clinical environment as well. The student, with or without reasonable accommodation, must possess these essential functions.

Essential FunctionsExamples of Necessary Behaviors (not all inclusive)
Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact with individuals, families and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, physical, medical and intellectual backgroundsEstablish rapport with clients, families, and colleagues
Communication abilities sufficient for interaction with others in verbal and written formExplain treatment procedures and oral health instruction as well as document treatment procedures and client responses
Critical thinking ability sufficient for clinical judgmentIdentify cause and effect relationship in clinical situations. Assimilate knowledge from lecture, laboratory, and clinical arenas. Utilize basic math skills.
Physical abilities sufficient to move around rooms in the dental environment and maneuver in small spaces and reach needed equipmentMove around clinical operatories, dark room, sterilization room, and other treatment areas. Position self chairside in close proximity to patient. Administer CPR and BLS procedures. Reach radiographic equipment. Transfer patient from wheel chair to dental chair and back.
Gross fine motor abilities sufficient to provide safe and effective assistance to the dentist, patient and co-workers.Move, calibrate and use equipment and dental materials and supplies including sharp instruments during operative procedures. Use ancillary aids, chairside mannequins, small equipment, etc.
Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and assess health needsHear patients; cries of distress; sounds of instruments and equipment being properly used; sound of slow speed handpiece and monitor vital signs
Visual ability sufficient for physical assessment, performance of dental procedures and maintenance of environmental safetyObserve client responses such as skin color and facial expression. Monitor vital signs. Evaluate radiographs for technical quality including density, contrast, and distortion. Read records. Note color changes in dental materials.
Tactile ability sufficient for assessment and performance of dental chairside procedures including safe expanded functionsPerform selective coronal polishing; placement of x-rays and gingival retraction cord; mixing and placing alginate impression material; sealants; and removing excess cement