Get in on the Ground Floor as a Dental Assistant
Interested in working in health care but not necessarily a hospital or doctor’s office. How about a related health care field. With a small amount of training you can be working in the fast-paced environment of the dentist office. It is a challenging and rewarding profession that can lead to advancement in this growth industry.
As a Dental Assistant, you will administer many dental health treatments and also may take on laboratory responsibilities. Dental Assistants are responsible for sterilizing and organizing dental tools, asking patients about symptoms and dental wellness, and maintaining dental records. Assistants ensure patients are comfortable before and during dental treatments, assist dentists in administering various procedures and teach patients how to take care of their teeth and gums.
Dental Assistants also take x-rays, apply topical anesthetics, and remove excess compounds used to fill cavities and remove sutures. In some states, they can administer coronal polishing and may perform some restorative dental procedures.
In the lab, Dental Assistants make teeth casts, clean appliances and create temporary crowns. There may also be administrative duties which could include: scheduling appointments, payment processing, maintaining records, invoiceing, and ordering supplies.
Education and Training
There is occasionally on-the-job training, but most Dental Assistants complete formal training programs at vocational schools, technical schools or community colleges. Most programs last about a year but can be shorter. Associate’s degree programs, typically two years of education, in Dental Assisting are also available.
Many states have licensing requirements for assistants who perform advanced dental care functions and take x-rays. Be sure to check out your state and local requirements.
The Job outlook for dental assistants is very good. Job growth is estimated to increase by over 35 percent in the next decade. Growth will be spurred by greater demand for preventative dental care, population growth, and increasing amounts of older patients retaining natural teeth. It’s also estimated that dentist jobs will be filled by new dentists who rely heavily on dental assistants. Likewise, as dentists increase their clientele, it’s projected that they’ll hire extra assistants to administer routine tasks, so they can perform more complicated treatments.
A position as a Dental Assistant can be a great entry level position in medical field but in a work environment that is different then the typical medical practice. If you like interacting with people, a fast paced environment, working in a team environment and making a positive difference in someone’s life, you may want to explore this career path.