Dental Assistant Careers
- What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
- Training and Education for Dental Assistants
- Dental Assistant Salary and Job Outlook
Become a Dental Assistant
- Career Plan: How to Become a Dental Assistant
Additional Dental Assisting Resources...
Dental Assistants work closely with both dentists and patients. They are responsible for preparing the equipment and prepping the patients for each unique procedure. You will assist the dentist at chair side, as well as perform your own procedures, under the supervision of a dentist. Typical duties of a dental assistant include sterilizing dental instruments and equipment, handing instruments to the dentist during procedures, keeping the patients mouth clear and dry using suction, and counseling the patient on good oral health care practices. Some dental assistants perform other tasks such as dental radiography, reversible intra-oral procedures, removing sutures, and making molds of the teeth and gums from impressions. Outside of the exam room, the duties of a dental assistant include keeping records of items such as exams, appointments, supplies and treatments.
The work schedule for a dental assistant can be very flexible. About half of them work a 35-40 hour work week, however, there are opportunities to work part time and even on Saturdays. One option is to work for multiple offices to help tailor your schedule to fit your lifestyle.
Many of the skills you need as a dental assistant are learned on the job, however, dental assisting programs are becoming increasingly popular. As dentists look to expand the roles and responsibilities of their dental assistants, they are going to take look for those that have some level of formal training. All dental assisting programs require students to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most programs can be completed in one year or less and will include classroom, laboratory, and pre clinical instruction, as well as hands on training.
According the the National Employment Matrix, the average hourly wage for a dental assistant was $14.43 in 2006 and average annual salaries ranged from $20,530 to $43,040 depending upon education, experience and location.
Job opportunities for dental assistants look to be abundant in the coming years. The National Employment Matrix projects that by the year 2016 there will be a need for 362,000 dental assistants. This is a 29% increase in just ten short years. This growth is much faster than the average growth for other occupations. The need for dental assistants is a growing one. In this unstable economy, a dental assistant career can offer security for a long time to come.