Can Dental Assistants Give Anesthesia?


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Dental Assistants play a very important role in ensuring a patient’s dental experience is comfortable and quick. They help by greeting patients, updating a patient’s personal information, preparing them for their exam and then preparing the exam room for the next patient. This role helps free up the time of dentists and dental hygienists to focus on the tasks that they have spent years training for while ensuring patients have the care they need.


A huge part of a patient’s comfort depends on the medications given for pain management. Topical and local anesthesia is common in most dental offices to help patients feel less of the pressure and pain they may experience while undergoing dental procedures. Anesthesia, usually lidocaine or Novocaine, temporarily blocks nerve impulses, allowing dentists to work on all parts of the mouth without causing discomfort to the patient. While this medication is used daily, it can still be dangerous if not used correctly.


If you're interested in becoming a Dental Assistant, you should consider enrolling in UEI College's Dental Assistant Program.

Can Dental Assistants Give Anesthesia?

No, dental assistants are not qualified to give anesthesia to patients. Doing so would be outside the dental assistant’s scope of practice.


Dental assistants are trained to help prepare patients for their exams and also may assist chairside by handling tools, positioning the patient, and sanitizing equipment. Dental Assistants do not go through extensive training which is required for a dentist to administer anesthesia, whether topical or injected locally into the gums or mouth.


While dental assistants are not the ones to inject anesthesia into a patient, they are still an important part of the numbing process. The dental assistant may load the syringe for the dentist or dental hygienist with the right amount of medication, ensure all necessary equipment is within reach, and help dispose of needles and equipment after they are used. The dental assistant may also be the one to collect the patient’s medical history at the beginning of the visit, which helps the dentist account for any risks and calculates the amount of medication needed.

Why Can’t Dental Assistants Give Anesthesia?

Keeping patients from experiencing pain while undergoing dental work is a major focus for the industry and one of the biggest complaints of patients. Over the years, many advancements have been made in this area but even with all the technological evolutions, pain management is still a tricky task that requires a lot of training and practice. Dental assistants are trained to be able to get to work quickly and help with the efficiency of the office. They have not undergone the training necessary to manage anesthesia.


While anesthesia is generally safe, in some rare cases (less than 1 percent), it can cause an allergic reaction that may lead to temporary facial paralysis, seizures, or even cardiac arrest. Dentists and some dental hygienists have undergone training that allows them to recognize allergic reactions, hematoma (when the medication hits a blood vessel), and other medical emergencies that may occur in the process.


Roughly 10 to 15 percent of patients do not fully respond to local anesthesia and may need further medications or alterations to the medication to help control the pain. Doctors also have to consider the effects of anesthesia on patients with heart disease, renal impairment, bleeding disorders, pregnancy or elderly patients. All of this knowledge comes from in-depth training and experience.

Does UEI College's Dental Assistant Program Teach Students How to Give Anesthesia?

UEI College's Dental Assistant Program does not train students to give anesthesia because this is outside the scope of practice for a dental assistant. While students are not taught to give anesthesia, they are instructed on the basics of chairside assisting, dental science, and dental emergencies. Students may have the opportunity to observe and learn more about the anesthesia process during their externship when they work in a dental office and learn from those currently doing the job.

What Topics Does Our Dental Assistant Program Cover?

The dental assisting program at UEI College covers all the basic knowledge and skills needed to prepare for an entry-level position as a dental assistant.


Students are trained on the following:

  • Assisting during medical emergencies
  • Chairside assisting during dental procedures
  • Sanitizing equipment
  • Performing dental x-rays
  • Taking impressions and creating casts for custom trays, mouthguards, and bleaching trays
  • Preventative dentistry, including nutrition, tooth-brushing, and applying fluoride
  • Dental Specialties
  • Front office skills like scheduling appointments, updating records, and making professional phone calls


Each of these topics is practiced through hands-on lab experiences. Students also have the opportunity to put all the skills they learn into practice during their externship. This real-world experience in a working dental office provides the opportunity to learn from those currently in position and make connections in the field that may be valuable during a job search.


At the conclusion of the program, students will be prepared for an entry-level position as a dental assistant, orthodontic technician, orthodontic assistant, surgical, dental assistant, oral surgery assistant, or registered dental assistant.

How to Become a Dental Assistant?

Becoming a dental assistant may be easier than you think. Training to become a dental assistant can take as few as ten months. However, to enroll in UEI College's Dental Assistant Program, you must have a high school diploma.


For more details on how to become a dental assistant, Learn How to Become a Dental Assistant.

Become a Dental Assistant With UEI College

If you have an interest in the dental field and a passion for making people smile, you should seriously consider training to become a dental assistant. This exciting career takes less than a year to train for and can put you on the path to a long-term career in the dental field.


UEI College supports students with quick, flexible instruction. Our ongoing enrollment allows students to enroll today and begin classes on the next class start date. The hybrid schedule allows students to complete assignments and live lectures online and come to campus twice a week for in-person, hands-on lab experiences where skills are put to practice. Experienced instructors will guide you through the process.


The dental field is growing and changing daily, and with so many specialties like orthodontics and pedodontics, you’re sure to find something to keep your attention. If you are looking for a career that you can continue to learn and grow in for years to come, give us a call to get started today!


Enroll in UEI College's Dental Assisting Program.