Dental Assistant Emergency Care
The role of Dental Assistant involves being able to perform a variety of duties. It also requires being
detail oriented, alert, and able to react calmly and quickly in emergency situations. A Dental Assistant
observes all dental procedures, assisting both Dentists and Dental Hygienists to perform quality
procedures for all patients.
While most dental procedures are routine and take place without incident, emergency situations do
take place. Eliminating short cuts for procedures and staying alert with the focus on the needs of the
patient will help prevent emergencies from occurring. Planning and preparation can help Dental
Assistants be able to resolve issues and remedy emergency situations with positive results for all
People have been known to stop breathing during dental procedures or have allergic reactions to
local anesthetics. During such a situation, it is vital that Dental Assistants are properly trained in how
to assist. It is recommended that Dental Assistants know how to perform CPR. Some dental facilities
require monitoring of a patient’s vital signs to help them monitor for any side effects or other issues.
Another incident that can take place in a dental facility is accidentally swallowing something, causing
the patient to choke. A patient can choke on dental equipment, tools, extracted teeth, or other
materials. Since most procedures are done under anesthesia, the patient may not be able to control
reflexes to push the object away from the throat. Dental Assistants must know how to quickly react to
prevent serious injury or death from occurring.
Likewise, objects including dental tools, extractions, and other materials might be dropped or
ricochet, landing in the eye of a patient. Eye wash stations are generally available in dental facilities.
Dental Assistants need to make sure they are familiar with how they work and where they are located
in the facility.
On occasion, a patient may suffer from other health issues not related to their dental procedures.
These health issues may include a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. Therefore, it is important for
Dental Assistants to be trained in basic medical issues as well as those that relate to dental
There are other types of emergency situations that can occur in a dental facility that Dental Assistants
can help with. In the event of a fire, quickly remove all patients from the building. This needs to be
done keeping everyone as calm and comfortable as possible.
During an emergency in the dental facility, patients should not be left alone under any circumstances.
Dental Assistants and other staff members have a duty to the patient to administer quality emergency
services until the proper medical response team arrives to take over. It is important for the Dental
Assistant to be able to inform the medical response team of the changes the patient exhibited as well
as documentation of everything that took place prior to the event. This information can help medical
response teams pinpoint the issue faster and provide adequate medical care.
Since medical emergencies don’t often occur in dental facilities, is important for staff to have regular
meetings and reminders about the proper procedures in the event an emergency does take place.
Practice drills are a great way to keep the policies and procedures fresh in the mind of all staff
members. It is important to post phone numbers of all emergency agencies in several locations where
all staff can easily access the information. However, it is not recommended the information be posted
where patients can see it. For those who are already nervous about coming in for a procedure, seeing
that information is not going to easy their level of anxiety. Being prepared for such emergencies will
make a difference in the outcomes.
Dental Assistants need to address the issue of emergency care at the start of their employment. If no
such policies and procedures are in place, encourage your employer to establish them. It only takes
one incident of a medical emergency taking place for a dental facility to be sued. If they are found to
be negligent it could result in charges being filed or the business having to close down. Protecting
your job and the business you work for as well as providing quality procedures for all patients will
ensure job security.