Types of Jobs for Dental Assistants
The jobs of dental assistants can vary, depending on the needs of the dental office where you work. Here are some of the different types of roles that dental offices may need.
Some dental assistant positions focus mainly on patient care. In this type of role, you will work right alongside the dentist. You might assist with oral examinations and in-office dental procedures. Part of your job will be to help patients feel more comfortable. The dentist will expect you to assist by making sure all the tools and equipment are ready when needed. Some of your tasks might include preparing materials for restorations, keeping patients’ mouths dry with a suction tube, or inserting dental dams.
Working in the Laboratory
Dental assistants who specialize in laboratory work have less contact with patients. In this type of position, you might be responsible for making casts of the teeth using impressions, cleaning removable dental appliances, and helping to make temporary crowns.
Dental assistants may also be responsible for office-related duties. You might be expected to schedule and confirm appointments, update patient treatment records, order dental supplies and materials, and manage the billing and receiving processes.
Most dental assistants jobs are in dentists’ offices. During procedures, you will work in close proximity to the dentist, dental hygienist, and patient. Dental assistants wear surgical masks, safety glasses, gloves, and protective clothing to help prevent the spread of infection.
Outlook on Jobs
To get a better understanding on the job outlook for dental assistants, visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The handbook predicts that employment of dental assistants is expected to increase by 18 percent between the years 2014 and 2024. This rate of growth is much faster than the average for all occupations.
The handbook says, “Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services. As dental practices grow, more dental assistants will be needed.”
The aging of the baby-boom generation will also have an impact on the need for dental assistants. The handbook explains, “As the large baby-boom population ages, and as people keep more of their original teeth than did previous generations, the need to maintain and treat teeth will continue to increase the need for dental assistants.”
Salary Trends for Dental Assistants
The salary trends for dental assistants are affected by a number of factors, such as experience level, skill level, and geographic location. In general, entry-level positions will start out at a lower pay scale, but as you spend more time on the job and perform your job duties well, your salary is likely to increase. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook provides more details on the salary trends of dental assistants.
Dental Assistants and Certification
Dental assistants are not required to be certified, but earning your certification is a powerful way to show potential employers that you have proven skills in your career field. At Seacoast, we suggest that graduates take the Registered Dental Assisting (RDA) exam offered by the American Medical Technologists. Stepping out into the job market with a certification on your resume will give you increased marketability and confidence as you start to build your career.
Still Not Sure?
If you aren’t sure if the Dental Assistant program is right for you, take a moment to consider another program at Seacoast. Our selection of career-focused programs offers something for everyone.