The Role of Dental Assistants in Canada

The Role Of Dental Assistants In Canada written on sky blue background with a dentist assisting patient element on the right

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Moving to a new country comes with its own set of challenges, and understanding the work culture is a crucial aspect of integration.

A question posed by an internationally trained dentist regarding the inclusion of cleaning duties in the role of a dental assistant sparked a debate within the community.

Let’s explore the diverse opinions on whether tasks like brooming and mopping should be part of a dental assistant’s responsibilities in the Great White North. But first, let’s uncover their primary and mandatory activities.

Also read: 10 Steps To Transition From Dental Assistant To Healthcare Business Analyst.

Dental Assistant’s Primary Responsibilities?

Roles and Responsibilities of Dental Assistants in Ontario-

Level I Certified Dental Assistant (CDA):

  1. Preparation of Treatment/Clinical Area:
    • Set up and organize the treatment area for dental procedures.
  2. Instrument Care:
    • Clean and sterilize instruments and handpieces.
  3. Assisting Dentist or Hygienist:
    • Pass instruments using single- and two-handed techniques.
  4. High Volume Evacuator Use:
    • Utilize the High Volume Evacuator within the oral cavity.
  5. Restorative Material Preparation:
    • Prepare materials used in restorative procedures.
  6. Lab Procedures:
    • Perform simple laboratory tasks like pouring and trimming study models.
  7. Inventory Management:
    • Maintain and monitor dental supplies and equipment.
  8. Emergency Response:
    • Assess emergency situations, follow emergency protocols, and possess First Aid and CPR knowledge.
  9. Record-Keeping:
    • Record patient data on charts as directed by the dentist.
  10. Education:
    • Educate patients and the community on oral health (extra-oral).
  11. Additional Duties:
    • Undertake extra-oral tasks as required by the dentist.
  12. Orthodontic Procedures (with supplemental course):
    • Perform specific orthodontic procedures if completed a supplemental course.
  13. Restorative Procedures (with supplemental course):
    • Conduct additional restorative procedures if completed a supplemental course.

Level II Intra-Oral Dental Assistant (CDA II):

  1. Directed Intra-Oral Procedures:
    • Perform specific intra-oral procedures under the direction of a dentist.
  2. Unsupervised Intra-Oral Procedures:
    • Some procedures may be performed unsupervised, as directed by the dentist.
  3. Supplemental Courses (Orthodontic and Restorative):
    • Completion of supplemental courses allows for more specialized intra-oral procedures.

Dental Receptionist/Front Desk Administrative Assistants (CDR):

  1. Patient Management:
    • Handle patient reception and dismissal.
  2. Appointment Book Control:
    • Manage the appointment book and recall system.
  3. Business Area Maintenance:
    • Control and maintain the business area.
  4. Communication Handling:
    • Efficiently handle incoming calls and patient follow-up treatment calls.
  5. Financial Management:
    • Manage receivables, payables, bank deposits, and outstanding accounts.
  6. Record Keeping:
    • Maintain financial records and file systems.
  7. Supply Management:
    • Order, receive, and manage supplies.

Treatment Coordinator (CDTC):

  1. Patient Consultation:
    • Perform the required part of patient consultations.
  2. Financial Agreements:
    • Make financial agreements with patients in accordance with office policies.
  3. Progress Monitoring:
    • Monitor patient progress through each treatment.
  4. Coordinating Programs:
    • Coordinate goodwill programs, practice building, and public relations efforts.
  5. Administrative Tasks:
    • Print and proofread patient correspondence.

Preventive Dental Assistant (CPDA): (Listed with RCDSO prior to January 1, 2000)

  1. Comprehensive Duties:
    • Includes all duties of a Certified Level I Dental Assistant.
  2. Additional Responsibilities:
    • Perform chairside dental assisting, mechanical polishing, rubber dam placement and removal, preliminary impression, and more.

Cleaning Duties As A Dental Assistant

The debate on whether cleaning duties should be part of a dental assistant’s role has sparked differing opinions. Some advocate for shared responsibilities, while others believe such tasks are beyond the professional scope. Let’s look into both perspectives on whether cleaning duties should be included for dental assistants.

Supportive Perspectives

1. Equality in the Workplace
Some believe that in the workplace, everyone, from dentists to assistants, should contribute to keeping the office clean. Their mantra is simple: “No one is above anyone else.”

2. Lead by Example
An experienced dentist with 30 years of experience shared their viewpoint, stating that they still participate in cleaning duties. Their perspective was grounded in the belief that leading by example fosters a positive work environment. They’re open to participating in cleaning duties, emphasizing its role in preventing resentment among staff.

3. Health and Safety Obligations
Some argued that, being in a health-regulated field, maintaining a clean and safe workspace is a duty shared by all dental professionals. They stressed the importance of light cleaning duties to ensure the well-being of both clients and staff.

Critical Perspectives

1. Specialized Roles
On the flip side, some argue that dental professionals shouldn’t be responsible for janitorial tasks. They fear that adding cleaning duties blurs the lines between specialized roles and general cleaning staff.

2. Maintaining Professional Boundaries
Another counter-argument highlighted the need for maintaining professional boundaries. Some professionals were adamant that while maintaining operational cleanliness is important, tasks such as scrubbing toilets should not be part of their responsibilities as dental professionals.

In the discussion about whether dental assistants should clean, one common idea stands out – everyone in the dental team works together to keep the place tidy. This shared view says that, no matter your job, helping out with cleaning is important. People who support this idea think it builds teamwork, makes work positive, and turns the dental office into a nice place.

This teamwork in cleanliness isn’t just about job titles. It’s about understanding that everyone helping makes a friendly space for both staff and patients. People believe that following this team approach is really important for a successful and happy work environment in dental practices everywhere.


Dental assistants in Ontario, working together, play a crucial role in providing quality patient care and ensuring the success of dental practices.

The question of whether brooming and mopping should be included in the duties of dental assistants in Canada has sparked a multifaceted discussion within the dental community.

While some advocate for a shared responsibility and see it as a means of fostering a positive work environment, others argue that it goes beyond the professional boundaries of dental roles.

As international professionals navigate the work culture in Canada, understanding and adapting to these varied perspectives will be essential for a harmonious and successful career in the field.

Ultimately, finding a balance that ensures a clean and safe workspace while respecting professional boundaries is key in creating a thriving dental practice.

Let us know what you think about it in the comments!


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