Dental Assistant

Pros


  • This work entails helping people with their dental problems, and making them feel at ease in the dentist chair.
  • Dental Assistants need to only have a small amount of formal training to get a job.
  • Job growth is expected to be very good in this occupation as dentists hire more assistants.

Cons

  • You must be a people person. Some of these people may be stressed out or in pain when they come to see the dentist.
  • You will be assisting a dentist with intensive dental procedures. You must not be squeamish.
  • Some dental assistants have to work multiple jobs in order to be employed full time.

Overview

A dental assistant works with a dentist to complete a variety of dental tasks. They make a dentist’s job easier while performing intensive tasks. Along with pulling teeth, dentists also do intensive surgery in their patient’s mouths. Many dental procedures, such as a root canal, can be very involved and require several hours or more at the dental chair. Because of this, dentists need to have capable assistants that are able to work well with people and provide an additional set of hands to work with.

Some of the daily tasks that dental assistants do include sterilizing instruments, preparing equipment for treatment and updating patient records. They may also spend time working with diagnostic machinery such as x-ray machines. While a dentist is performing a procedure on a patient, dental assistants work side-by-side to hand instruments and keep patients’ mouths clean and dry with special suction equipment. Post-operation, dental assistant will remove sutures, apply anesthetics and remove excess cement that dries during the filling process. They will also advise patients on post-op and general dental health habits.

Dental assistants work in dentists’ offices. Sometimes their work may only be part-time in a particular dental office, and they may work part-time at several offices in order to obtain a full time salary. Sometimes they will also work in another career field, or go to school in their spare time in order to advance themselves.

Education

While an associate’s degree can be obtained in this field, it is possible to enroll in a shorter-term dental assistant program that may be available in a community college or while in the military. Fairly often dental assistants have very little formal training, and much of the time training is done on the job. Most states do not have any requirements for dental assistants in terms of training, but they are limited by the responsibilities that they can perform in the workplace.

Job Prospects

Those who are interested in becoming a dental assistant can expect good prospects. More often people are going to see the dentist for preventive purposes, primarily fueled by employers providing dental benefits along with health insurance. Although more people visit the dentist’s office, the amount of dentists in the workforce is staying the same. In order to compensate for the influx of patients, dentists are hiring more assistants so that they can focus their time on more intensive procedures that only they are able to perform.

Advancement Opportunities

Compared to other health professions, being s dental assistant has very few opportunities for advancement. But it is not impossible for those who are ambitious. Many dental assistants who are willing to take on more responsibilities may become an office manager in a dentist’s office. Some go back to school to acquire the skills required to become a dental hygienist. Others use their experience to become dental equipment salespeople or work as a processor for dental insurance claims.