Dental Assistant: Career Brief

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Dental Assistants acts as the licensed dentist’s extra hand by assisting him/her in providing efficient dental treatment. They also help and reduce treatment workload of the dentist, thus facilitating dentist to perform in a more efficient way.

Job Description:

Dentist assistant perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties, which are as follows:

• Laboratory duties: 

– They sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipments. 

– Prepare and layout the instruments and treatment materials required to treat each patient. 

– They clean and polish removable accessories used by the dentist, prepare casts from the impressions and also build temporary crowns.

• Patient care: 

– They make the patients feel comfortable in the dental chair and prepare them for treatment. 

– They assist the licensed dentist and handle the various dental related equipments. 

– They also instruct patients on general oral health care.

• Office duties: 

– It is also the duty of dentist assistant to arrange and schedule appointments. They also welcome patients, manage and record patient case history, send patient treatment bills, receive payments and, maintain supplies and other materials needed for the dentist office. 

– They also obtain and update patients’ records.

Other common duties of DA also includes, exposing of dental x-rays under the supervision a dentist, removing of sutures, cleaning excess cement during filling and using medications on gum.

They are required to work closely under the supervision of licensed dentists. Their workstation is usually near the dental chair so that they can hand over the instruments, medications and materials to the dentist during treatments. 

They must wear gloves, masks, eye wear to protect themselves and patients from communicable diseases.

Depending upon the working hours of the clinic, they also work even on weekends or late evenings.

Training and certifications:

Many assistants learn their skills while working with the licensed dentist. Apart from that, there are many community and junior colleges that train these aspiring assistants. Most of the training programs can be completed in a year, while some state requires assistants to acquire license or certification for radiological procedures.

Education and training:

Most of the states do not require any formal education or training for an entry level assistant. Even High school or GED is sufficient for working in a dental clinic. But, students are required to take a course in chemistry, biology, and health and office management in order to work as a dental assistant. A number of private vocational schools also provide 4-6 months of courses in dental assistant training.

Mostly dental assistants learn about the dental terminology through on job trainings. Office related chores such as where files and equipments are kept, will need to be learned at each new job.

Certifications required:

In 37 states, the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) make it mandatory for the aspiring dental personnel to have the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) permit for meeting various parameters. They are also required to have certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Job Outlook:

The job prospects for dental professionals are excellent and are projected to grow faster by the year 2018.

The increase in the growing and ailing population, increase in maintenance of natural teeth by middle aged and older people with increase in the focus of dental care will boost the demand for dental care facilities.

Growth opportunities are near to excellent as there is a booming need of qualified CDAs. Licensed dentist require experienced assistants who have completed dental assisting program.

Earnings:

Average dental assistant salary of dental assistants is somewhere around $32,000. Of which 50% earn between $26,980 and $38,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,150.

The report by DANB states that about 85% of the dental assistants are receiving paid vacations and health benefits from their employers annually.

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