Studies say the smile is the first feature we notice about each other. Dental Assistants see plenty of smiles - and what's behind them. Dental Assistants are not hygienists. They don't clean patients' teeth but they do make casts, or impressions, of teeth; keep equipment clean and sterilized; work along side dentists, handing them equipment and keeping patients' mouths clean and dry; and teach patients how to take care of their teeth.

Did you know?

  • The average person has 32 adult teeth.
  • People get two sets of teeth - their baby (primary or milk) teeth and their adult (permanent) teeth. Sharks get more than 40 sets of teeth in a lifetime.
  • Tooth enamel, the outside coating, is the hardest substance in the human body.
  • Only one-third of a human tooth is visible. The rest is embedded in the gum and attached to the jaw socket.
  • Adding up the time the average American spends brushing teeth during a lifetime translates into about 38 days, or less than 1,000 hours.
  • Overall dental health is improving: The number of cavities across all age groups is declining and people are keeping their teeth longer. Still, 25 percent of Americans older than 60 have lost all their teeth and smokers remain three times more likely to lose them all than non-smokers.
  • Healthy teeth mean more than a nice smile. Unhealthy teeth and gums can lead to very serious infections as bacteria enter the mouth and travel through the bloodstream to the lining of heart. These infections, called endocarditis, can be fatal.