In the dental field, there is much more than dentists working on patients’ teeth, as every dental practice needs strong support staff to ensure its success. Dental assistants are a part of that support and they assist dentists in a variety of ways from preparing rooms to cleaning equipment. Read on to discover if this career is right for you.
Definition of the Career
Dental assistants are trained dental professionals who work closely along side dentists and other professionals to help with patient care and the functions of a dental setting.
• Assist dentists and other personnel in dental environments with scheduling appointments, maintaining dental records, interacting with patients, and establishing and maintaining infection control procedures.
• Examine patients to look for decay and other abnormal conditions.
• Talk to patients about dental care and explain procedures and the importance of good oral hygiene practices and preventive measures.
• Perform dental X-rays and deliver films to dentists.
• Mix and prepare the right ingredients for fillings, crowns, and other materials.
• Brief dentists on patients prior to examinations and procedures.
• Assist dentists during procedures by prepping patients and passing the desired instruments.
• Prepare dental areas by setting up equipment and sanitizing dental tools and instruments.
• Perform clerical duties such as answering phones and ordering supplies.
Majority of individuals in this profession worked under the supervision of licensed dentists. They also work alongside dental hygienists. They are required to wear surgical masks, safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing to make sure both themselves and patients are protected from infectious medical conditions. These workers must also abide by the established safety procedures. This job features flexible work hours and many work evenings and weekends depending on the needs of their employer.
There are numerous ways to enter this profession, such as completing an accredited dental assisting program. Some states do not require formal education and those individuals learn their duties through training on-the-job. Most dental assisting programs take about one year to complete and result in a diploma or certificate. Some community colleges offer associate degrees that take two years to complete. Dental assisting training involves instruction about the teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth and explanation of a dental procedures. Many programs include clinical components where students engage in practical learning experiences.
Certification and Licensure
Some areas require certification for individuals to work in this career. To receive certification, individuals must get a passing score on a Certified Dental Assistant examination. Other areas require these professionals to become licensed from the a board of dentistry.
Job Outlook and Salary
The demand for this profession to is anticipated to increase by 31 percent by the year 2020, which is deemed much faster than average for all jobs combined. These workers will be needed to perform routine duties to enable dentists to treat more patients and as dental practices increase, so will the need for more dental assistants. In May 2010, the median yearly pay for this career was $33,470.