What You Should Know About a Dental Assisting Career
What Do Dental Assistants Do?
Dental assistants are dental health professionals who work with dentists. They have a number of tasks and responsibilities that include patient care, keeping dental records, scheduling, dealing with bills and payment, educating patients about dental care, assisting in dental procedures, and more. The duties of a dental assistant are vast and varied.
The Challenges of Dental Assisting
There are many responsibilities for dental assistants. Just like any other job, there are challenges that go along with being a dental assistant. Dental assistants spend a lot of time working with patients. They are usually the ones to welcome patients, take them back to a prepared room, and gather their information and medical history. Dental assistants are also usually the ones to prepare the room and sterilize any equipment. There are many general office tasks for dental assistants. They do also spend a significant amount of time on their feet.
The Perks of Dental Assisting
The perks of being a dental assistant outweigh the challenges for most people. Dental assistants have very flexible schedules. Plus, most dental offices are closed on major holidays. For most dental offices, there is a great work-life balance. The potential for growth in the field is exponential. There any many opportunities in this field as it continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor, the job opportunities for dental assistants is projected to grow by 19% before 2026. In 2015, the median salary of a dental hygienist was about $72,000 a year. There is also a relatively short training period required. Most dental hygienist programs are two years or under. With extensive education and training, you can advance in the dental field to more advanced positions. There is also some personal satisfaction that comes along with dental work because you work day to day helping people and encouraging health.
A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant
A day in the life of a dental assistant will differ depending on the dental office you work in, but there are a few things you can count on, such as:
- Greet and educate patients—patients mainly interact with dental assistants.
- Sterilize equipment and prepare a room—this equipment will be used by assistants and dentist, but typically an assistant prepares everything.
- Clean teeth—dental assistants perform routine cleanings and educate patients on dental hygiene.
- Organize dental records—dental assistants get information from patients and record it during most dental examinations.
- Take impressions—there are many reasons to take teeth impressions. Assistants often take impressions for mouth guards, retainers, crowns, bridges, whitening trays, veneers, dentures, etc.
- Assist in dental procedures—this may include cavity fillings, crowns, wisdom teeth removal, etc. Usually, an assistant will work under a dentist to help with these procedures.
- Perform office tasks—many dental assistants also do some office managerial tasks. This may include scheduling appointments, processing billing and payments, and maybe even reception. It will differ from office to office.