The interviewer wants to know if you are aware of the fundamental procedures you would have to perform as a dental assistant. Do your homework, beforehand!
As cross-infection is possible in any dental surgery, so, a designated area or "clean" room is present for receiving, cleaning off debris, disinfecting, sterilizing and storing all sterile dental equipment.
The manual way to clean the instruments is by scrubbing, using a chemical or detergent agent, rinsing very thoroughly with clean water, and avoiding any splashes.
You could also mention that using automated equipment can prove more efficient as the instruments eliminate the need for soaking or scrubbing beforehand. This method also prevents the dental assistant from being exposed to contaminants.
To reduce injury; gloves, face-masks, and gowns must be worn at all times. To impress the interviewer, you can always finish answering this question by saying that many organizations across America insist on long-handled brushes to keep the hands away from sharp instruments!
Entry Level answer example
"I was trained to manually sterilize dental equipment by the method of pre-soaking and scrubbing utensils using a chemical agent. I am also versed in the importance of proper protective equipment such as gloves, a face-mask, and a gown."
Experienced answer example
"Sterilization methods have changed over the years so, for that reason, I am well versed in both manual and automated serialization. In my current position, I work in an office that uses a high tech automated system, which is what I prefer. Which method do you use in your office?"