As the name suggests, dental assistants provide help to dentists by making available and providing an assortment of services related to actual dental work on patients, as well as handling the paperwork in the dentist’s office. The demand for dental assistants is high and is stated to remain high in the coming years.
A dental assistant’s work is to sterilize the dental equipment, prepare and arrange the dental instruments, use dental equipment such as the suction machine, take and process dental x-rays, help the dentist by preparing dental cement or other tooth fillings, remove sutures, prepare the patient for dental surgery, and also guide the patient on proper dental hygiene and care. The dental assistant should also handle the paperwork related to patients, such as maintaining and retrieving the patients files, taking appointments, sending bills and collecting payments. Different states have variations as to what a dental assistant can legally do so it is important to study the state’s laws to learn the various duties and limitations imposed by each state. A dental assistant can work with a single dentist or can even work with multiple dentists by adjusting the time necessary in assisting each dentist.
To become a dental assistant, you will need to have completed high school with science, biology, chemistry and mathematics as your main subjects. There are various dental programs offered by different institutes. Ensure that they are approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation through the American Dental Association [ADA]. You can get a certificate or a diploma if you choose a program, which is up to a 1 year tenure or you could go in for an associate degree course, which could take up to 2 years. During the program you will not only be taught theory and practicals in laboratories, but you would also actually be assisting dentists and get hands-on training.
The older generation dentists were comfortable working on their own but now that they retiring, younger dentists with their high tech dental equipments are in the market. The demand for dental assistants is on the increase since these dentists require someone to help them operate these sophisticated machines while they handle the precision work on their patients. Once you pass your dental exams, you will also need to register as a dental assistant in the state in which you wish to practice. This registration might also have to be renewed every year according to your state’s requirements. Dental assistants can earn around $34,000 per year but this figure depends on how many hours you work you put in each week and whether you work with a single dentist or with multiple dentists. Once your dentist is confident of your steady hands and cool nerves, you can expect to be promoted financially within a very short time.
In short, dental assistants have to provide an extra set of hands to the dentist and if you complete your dental program satisfactorily, then upon completion of your program, you can expect a satisfying career as a dental assistant.