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Dental Assistant

Introduction:

Dental Assistant is a person who assists the dental operator in giving an efficient dental treatment. This job can be considered as a good launching platform for those who are looking to become a dentist or a dental hygienist. With the availability of dental assistants, the dental operators can be able to focus more on the treatment procedures. The dental assistants can be distinguished from the dental hygienists from the level of training as well as expertise.

Job Description:

The roles and responsibilities of a dental assistant would include the following:

  • Working with patients in order to make them feel comfortable in the dental chair

  • Preparing the patients for treatments and procedures

  • Sterilizing dental instruments

  • Preparing the work area for treatment

  • Helping dentists during the treatments and procedures

  • Keeping patients’ mouths dry during the treatment

  • Instructing patients for proper dental hygiene

  • Processing X-rays and completing laboratory tasks

  • Maintaining records of dental treatments

  • Scheduling patient appointments

  • Working with patients on billing as well as payments


How to Become a Dental Assistant?

There are several possible ways to become a dental assistant. In the US, some states would require the dental assistants to be graduated from an accredited program while in the other states, no formal education is required.

Educational Requirements:

Any high school student who is interested in becoming a dental assistant should take the courses in the following subjects:

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Anatomy


As mentioned above, few states require you to be graduated from an accredited program and pass a state examination. Most of these programs are being offered by community colleges. As such, these accredited programs would include classroom and lab work during which you would learn about the areas in which dentists work on along with the instruments handled by them.

Training and Certification:

Those candidates who don’t have formal education in dental assisting could learn their duties via on-the-job training. A dental assistant or a dentist would teach you the following:

  • Dental terminology

  • Names of the instruments

  • How to complete daily tasks

  • How to interact with patients

  • Other activities


In order to obtain certification, the dental assistants must pass the ‘Certified Dental Assistant’ examination that is being conducted by the ‘Dental Assisting National Board’.

Job Outlook and Opportunities:

The job market of dental assistants is projected to increase by 25% from the year 2012 to 2022. This rate is much faster when compared with the average for all other occupations. The ongoing research on oral health and general health will continue to increase the demand for dental services which would simultaneously increase the demand for dental assistants.

Pay:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of United States Department of Labor, the average annual pay for a dental assistant is $34,500 which is $16.59 per hour.

Summary:

Average Pay                                                            :           $34,500

Education                                                                :           Post-secondary non-degree award

Number of Jobs, 2012                                          :           303,200

Employment Growth from 2012 to 2022         :           25%

On-the-job training                                              :           Some

Work Experience                                                   :           None