Those who are in the career of being a dental assistant understand their duties may range from interacting with patients to making appointments to sterilizing dental instruments within the dental office. The exact tasks may vary depending on the dentist office in which they practice, as well as the state in which they are working. However, their main duty is to work under the supervision and direction of a dentist, effectively completing daily tasks.
Dental assistants will be responsible for office work as well as working with a dentist. As mentioned, exact job tasks will vary depending on the office in which they work. Some may be responsible for office tasks such as updating treatment records, handing out bills, receiving payments, making appointments, greeting patients, and ordering supplies and equipment. Individuals who mostly work in a lab may maintain removable appliances, make casts of the mouth or teeth, or make temporary crowns.
Those who find they do well in this field are typically those who possess the following skills: interpersonal skills, organizational skills, listening skills, and detail-orientation. While exact roles may change from day-to-day, some aspects will stay the same. Dental assistants will always have interaction with patients, whether in the front office, or in an exam room. Therefore, individuals should also have developed “people-skills,” as well as compassion for when patients are experiencing extreme pain, or are nervous or stressed about a visit.
People have always been concerned with their looks for centuries. Today’s modern world is no different. As long as people are self-conscious about their teeth and smile, dental assistants should have job opportunities. Dental assistant employment is projected to grow approximately 31% between 2010 and 2020, as explained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental assistants may also begin to accumulate more responsibilities to allow for dentists to concentrate on more pressing dental-related issues.
Dental Assistants vs. Dental Hygienists
These two different jobs are often mistaken to be the same position. The responsibilities of dental assistants are less complicated than that of dental hygienists. Dental assistants take x-rays, pass instruments to the dentists, sterilize instruments, and handle suction and water. On the other hand, dental hygienists do not require as much supervision. They typically work individually to clean and polish teeth, and to check for sensitivity, mouth infections and diseases, and cavities. Hygienists are also required to earn more advanced education than assistants.
There is no set education requirement for this job position, as qualifications will vary from state to state. However, most states ask that applicants complete an accredited program. Often, these programs are available at community colleges or can be taken online. Those who complete these programs will earn a certificate or diploma to put towards their future career.