The field of dental assisting is expected to incur an 11% job growth by 2028, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This equals a need of more than 38,000 more dental assistants over this period of time! A dental assistant’s role in the dental practice is very important. As a dental professional who wears several different hats from day to day, dental assistants help the dentist accomplish everyday tasks. These duties may consist of assisting patients, scheduling appointments, office management, or any other task which requires both interpersonal and technical skills. Anyone can learn to be a successful dental assistant with the right set of skills and training. Let’s take a look at the duties and educational requirements of a dental assistant and determine if it is the career path for you.
Making Patients Feel Comfortable
The dental assistant needs to have a good understanding of the dental front office in order to make patients feel comfortable. When a patient arrives, the dental assistant needs to be able to help make them more comfortable. A patient needs to feel at ease and not stressed about their dental visit to make the most of their treatment. An open line of communication between the patient and the dental assistant allows for patients to share any dental concerns. Patients may also be more willing to listen to recommendations of the dentist as well.
Teaching Patients Oral Hygiene
It is a necessity for patients to be taught how to maintain their good oral health. Dental assistants educate patients of all ages about tooth brushing, flossing, and other common dental care practices to reduce the risk of oral health issues.
Providing Follow-Up Instructions
Once a dental procedure has been completed, a dental assistant will provide any follow-up instructions to the patient and answer any questions they may have to maintain their oral health.
Taking and Developing X-Rays
One of the most important programs to complete in order to become a dental assistant is the x-ray certification program. This program teaches how to handle traditional and digital x-rays. It teaches x-ray safety and the techniques for taking and developing x-rays to ensure the patients and assistants are always protected.
Assisting the Dentist
Dental assistants are highly trained to help the dentist perform their job effectively. They support dentists during oral surgery and also orthodontic procedures. Dental assistants are very important contributors to the success of a dental practice. Each dentist office determines the tasks a dental assistant will perform.
Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant
In order to begin training to become a dental assistant, you must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. Each state differs in their requirements for becoming a dental assistant. In some states, it is only required to complete on-the-job training from a dentist. Other states do not have certain criteria to become a dental assistant. In some states it is required to become licensed, registered, or certified to work as a dental assistant. In order to learn what is required in your state to become a dental assistant, contact your state’s Board of Dental Examiners.
The most common route taken to train to become a dental assistant is enrolling in a training program to obtain certifications. Typically these programs take about a year to complete to earn a certificate or diploma. You may choose to attend a two-year program and obtain an associate degree. These include such courses as English, math, and others. Upon completion of your training program, you may sit for the state or national exams. Such exams may or may not be required to be employed as a dental assistant where you live; however, these exams can give you a competitive edge and prove your knowledge, competence, and skills to become employed as a dental assistant.
The two national exams most commonly taken by dental assistants are the Nationally Registered Dental Assistant exam given by the National Association for Health Professionals and the Radiation Health and Safety Exam given by the Dental Assisting National Board.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to train to perform expanded tasks. You may also be required to be licensed or certified to perform certain procedures. Some dentists may require all team members obtain and maintain a CPR certification as well. Each state determines the scope of practice for dental assistants in order to perform tasks such as coronal polishing, applying sealant, application of fluoride or a topical anesthetic. If you think you may be interested in becoming a dental hygienist, you should earn an associate’s degree.
Are You Ready to Begin Your Dental Assistant Career?
Becoming a dental assistant requires a commitment to build your skill set and expertise. It is a rewarding career consisting of a wide array of everyday tasks. Do you think you are interested in becoming a dental assistant? Being a dental assistant may provide you with a future to smile about! Contact SPS Dental Academy for your live and in-person training to receive the best education possible!