Today, more than ever before, a great deal of emphasis is placed upon a person’s smile. While a white and bright smile is important to a person’s self-esteem, good dental care can also contribute to good physical health. A dental assistant’s job is to assist a dentist in promoting good dental care in patients.
There is a difference between a dental assistant, who may only need a certificate or a diploma, and a dental hygienist position which requires an associate or a bachelor’s degree. Classes can be taken in a standard classroom or in online schools. Most schools take two years or less to earn a dental assistant’s certificate, diploma or associates’s degree.
Dental Assistant Courses
Training and courses may include some of the following:
- Fundamentals of Dentistry
- Dental Anatomy and Pathology
- Medical terminology
- Math Fundamentals
- Dental Pharmacology
- Dental radiography
- Dental materials and tools
- Clinical practice
- Short internship with a dentist
- Dental office procedures
- Computer Basics
Some of the duties of a dental assistant:
- Preparing patients for dental procedures
- Educating patients on good dental care
- Taking patient x-rays when necessary
- Assuring all dental instruments are sterile
- Setting up trays for dental work to be done by the dentist
- Assisting the dentist during dental work, providing materials and tools
- Ordering dental supplies
- Cleaning removable appliances
- Assisting with impressions and casts of crowns and full dentures
- Some general office work and scheduling of appointments
Dental Assistant Jobs Outlook and Wages
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, dental assistant employment is expected to grow 36 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Median annual wages of dental assistants were $32,380 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $26,980 and $38,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,150.
A dental assistant job is a good profession for someone who is a caring person and wants a job in the health care industry.