To begin, here are just a few quick facts about Dental Assistants from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. The typical entry-level education to enter the dental assisting field is a postsecondary nondegree award. Prior work experience and on-the-job training are not required. It is predicted, based on the job outlook for May 2020, the numeric change in employment for dental assisting will grow by at least 44,000 per year over the next decade. Median wage data from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey in May 2020, shows the median annual wage for all dental assistants was $42,310. The average hourly salary in May 2020 was $20.34 per hour.
You will handle numerous tasks that range between taking x-rays and impressions and helping patients to relax and be comfortable throughout their dental treatments, including aftercare instructions. The duties of a dental assistant vary and are based upon state regulations. These duties may include:
- Assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures
- Taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays)
- Recording a patient’s medical history and taking blood pressure and pulse
- Serving as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol, and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment
- Providing patients with oral care instructions following surgery and other procedures
- Teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health, including tooth brushing, flossing and nutritional counseling
- Taking impressions of patients’ teeth
- Performing office management tasks
- Communicating with patients and supply partners, which may involve scheduling, handling and returning phone inquiries, billing and ordering materials and supplies
A dental assistant’s work environment may consist of one of the following:
- Solo dental practices with only one dentist
- Group practices with two or more dentists
- Specialty practices such as oral and maxillofacial surgery (removal of teeth and correction of facial deformities), orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics (straightening teeth with braces or other appliances), endodontics (root canal treatment), periodontics (treatment of gum problems), prosthodontics (replacement of lost teeth) and pediatric dentistry (treatment of children)
- Public health dentistry, including settings such as schools and clinics which focus on the prevention of dental problems within entire communities
- Hospital dental clinics, where they assist dentists in treating bedridden patients
- Dental school clinics, assisting dental students as they learn to perform dental procedures
- Insurance companies, where they may work in dental claims processing
There is much variety in the work of dental assisting. Dental assistants are in high demand and often have the opportunity to work full or part-time hours. Dental offices are interesting, pleasant, people-oriented places to work. A career in dental assisting involves person-to-person contact and enables you to get the personal satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone by providing a valuable health service.
Dental assistants are special people!
Dental assistants obtain their education through academic programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities, or dental schools. Upon graduation from these programs, you will receive a certificate. Most programs take anywhere from nine to eleven months to complete. Some facilities offer accelerated training, part-time programs or distance learning options.
The Commission on Dental Accreditations (CODA) accredits dental assisting programs. You can choose to be nationally certified by taking the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). This shows that you are trained and ready to assist dentists and other dental team members to provide quality care. Dental assistants are eligible to take the CDA Exam if they have completed a CODA-accredited program. Those who have received on-the-job training and have been employed in two years of full-time work as a dental assistant may also sit for the CDA Exam.
Some states recognize the passing of components of the CDA Exam, such as the Radiation Health and Safety exam or the Infection Control Exam, for licensing and regulatory purposes. States’ requirements vary, and some states require or offer registration or licensure. Contact your state board of dental examiners for more information.
You may contact your dentist or your local dental society to learn more about careers in dental assisting. You also may be able to visit a dental practice to observe a dental assistant at work. To learn more about dental assisting careers and educational programs, contact: The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA),
An admissions representative from SPS Dental Academy would be happy to schedule a visit and answer any questions you may have about our program. Only ten weeks are required to start your new career as a dental assistant. Complete the questionnaire form & schedule a zoom interview with an Admissions Representative today!
DENTAL ASSISTING IS A LUCRATIVE CAREER THAT NOT ONLY CAN CHANGE YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION BUT ALSO CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER!