A popular question from those searching for career opportunities is, “What do dentist assistants do?” The typical patient in a dentist office only sees a fraction of how a dental assistant contributes to the smooth running of any dental practice or other oral care setting.
Dentist assistants spend a good portion of their day working closely with patients and dentists. On a typical day, dental assistants may take a patient’s medical history; give the patient an explanation of the procedure they are having done; or instruct patients on the how-to’s of oral care. They are there to assist dentists during procedures on patients by providing them with instruments, holding hoses or other equipment, preparing treatment rooms, and ensuring instruments are sterile. They also document patient dental records with procedures and schedule follow-up appointments.
Some dentist assistants have the advanced training to X-ray a patient and perform all the necessary functions to prepare for X-rays. Dental assistants prepare the materials for impressions of a patient’s teeth alongside a dentist to make dental impressions or temporary crowns. Every state regulates the scope of practice for dental assistants, so you may have a wider scope of duties or opportunities in your state.
A Dental Assistant Career
Are you considering a career as a dental assistant? Have you wondered what dentist assistants do? If you are looking for a unique career soon after you graduate high school in the fast-paced medical field and don’t want to invest thousands of dollars in higher education, short term dental assisting training might be the right path for you!
In order to prepare for this career, it would be beneficial to take biology, chemistry, and anatomy while still in high school. Most people enroll in a training program post high school to obtain certification. These training courses can be completed in one year, and you will earn a certificate or diploma. You may also choose to obtain an associate degree by completing a two-year plan. After completing your choice of training, you qualify to sit for state or national examinations. Some states do not require certification to work as a dental assistant. Check your state’s Board of Dental Examiners to determine your state’s entry requirements.
Dental assistant programs provide graduates with the basic skills needed in order to gain employment. Coursework includes such topics as oral anatomy, radiography, dental equipment, dental assisting clinicals, and basic communication. If you do desire or your state requires it, there are two national exams which are common among dental assistants. These are the Nationally Registered Dental Assistant exam offered by the National Association for Health Professionals and the Radiation Health and Safety exam given by the Dental Assisting National Board. Some programs receive accreditation from the Accreditation Bureau of Health Education Schools, The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), or other bodies of accreditation.
Responsibilities of a Dental Assistant – What Do Dentist Assistants Do?
If you love performing a variety of duties, helping people, and getting to make personal connections, then becoming a dentist assistant is the right choice for you! When asking “What do dentist assistants do?” you may be surprised at how those duties will vary between different dental practices. Some dentists may rely more on dentist assistants to perform advanced duties, while others may not.
Some of the responsibilities of dental assistants include:
- Teaching patients proper dental hygiene
- Scheduling patient appointments
- Removing sutures
- Patient recordkeeping
- Processing X-rays and lab work under the supervision of a dentist
- Sterilizing dental equipment
- Preparing patients for treatment
- Processing payments and billing
- Assisting the dentist during procedures
- Arranging equipment for patient treatment
- Numbing patients prior to procedures
- Applying sealants
- Tooth polishing
- Applying fluoride treatments
There are also certain skills you need to develop to become a dental assistant. Do you have these skill sets:
interpersonal skills, listening, organization, detail-oriented, excellent communication, professional, dexterity, computer savvy, compassion, empathy, administrative skills, technical skills, love to learn, follow instructions closely, multitask, problem-solver, positive attitude, and a team player?
Job Outlook for Dentist Assistants
The Dental Assistant career is projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030 with 44,000 openings each year. These positions will become available due to replacing workers who took other jobs and those who exit the workplace due to retirement. A portion of the growth in employment as a dental assistant will come from recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. When dental offices grow, they will require more dental assistants so the dentists can perform their work more efficiently.
The median annual wage for a dental assistant in May of 2020 was $41,180 where top pay rates were $44,940 in government positions, $41,180 in dental offices and $38,600 in offices of physicians. Most dental assistants work on a full-time basis. Some work evenings and weekends.
SPS Dental Academy is committed to offering students quality, easily accessible learning opportunities to meet the needs of the dental community. The SPS Dental Academy Program offers a specified Dental Assisting Certificate program lasting 10 weeks with over 150 hours. Instructions are delivered by lecture, video, hands-on clinic and labs. It is Radiography Certified via the Michigan Dental Association. The program is CPR certified. Tuition is affordable. They offer support services such as resume workshops, advising, and career guidance. Workshops and classes are offered for personal growth and lifelong learning.
The best way to answer the question, “What do dentist assistants do?” is to enroll in dental assistant training for yourself. Contact SPS Dental Academy to assist you in achieving your specific career goals today. SPS Dental Academy is committed to their students and treats them like family!