The role of Dental Assistants is governed by the Official Code of Georgia. It has expanded over time and, now, dental assistants can do all of the following while they are actively assisting dentists in a dental office:
- Apply desensitizing agents to root surfaces of teeth and prepared the surfaces of teeth prior to cementation of temporary restorations and crowns, bridges, or inlays.
- Place cavity liner, base or varnish over unexposed pulp.
- Intraoral fabrication of temporary crowns and bridges. All such adjustments must be performed extraorally.
- Perform face bowl transfer.
- Make impressions to be used to repair a damaged prosthesis.
- Place periodontal dressing.
- Redressing (not initial placement of dressing) and removing dressing from alveolar sockets in post-operative osteitis when the patient is uncomfortable due to the loss of dressing from the alveolar socket in a diagnosed case of post-operative osteitis.
- Make impressions with irreversible hydrocolloid to be used to fabricate a night guard (bruxism or muscle relaxation appliance). All adjustments must be performed extraorally. Final adjustment must be made by the dentist.
- Monitor the administration of nitrous oxide/oxygen; turn off nitrous oxide/oxygen at the completion of the dental procedure and make adjustments to the level of nitrous oxide/oxygen, but only following the specific instructions of the dentist.
- Apply topical anticariogenic agents.
- Apply pit and fissure sealants, and primer and bonding agents to etched enamel or dentin; and light-cure with a fiber-optic light source (not to include the use of a laser device).
- Packing and removing retraction cord, as prescribed by the dentist, so long as said cord is used solely for restorative dental procedures.
- Changing of bleaching agent, following initial applications by the dentist, during the bleaching process of vital and non-vital teeth after the placement of a rubber dam; and applying the fiber-optic light source of a curing light for activation of the bleach (not to include the use of a laser device).
- Rebond brackets after a licensed dentist has examined the affected tooth and surrounding gingiva and found no evidence of pathology.
- Remove bonded brackets with hand instruments.
- Make impressions for passive orthodontic appliances.
- Apply primer and bonding agents to etched enamel or dentin; and light cure with fiber-optic light source (not to include use of a laser device).
While this is certainly not a complete list of what a dental assistant does, it is certainly a lengthy list and provides guidance as to what a dental assistant can and cannot do in Georgia. Many clients may be surprised to know that dental assistants can fabricate bridges and crowns. While most dentists would perform many of the above tasks themselves, it is useful to know that dental assistants are given quite a bit of latitude in assisting the dentist.
If anyone suspects that a dental assistant (or anyone else who is not a licensed dentist) is performing dental care without a license, they should contact the Georgia Dental Board immediately so that the Board can fully investigate the situation and take appropriate action. The Georgia Board of Dentistry can sanction and/or issue a cease and desist order to anyone in Georgia who is not fully in compliance with the laws. In addition, if the unlicensed practice of dentistry has resulted in a serious injury, you should contact an experienced dental malpractice lawyer to discuss the possiblitity of filing a dental malpractice lawsuit.
Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, dental malpractice, bus accidents, car accident cases and premises injury cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years. He practices in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area including handling lawsuits in Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb and other counties and nearby cities including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured in a dentist chair and would like discuss your case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.