Dental Assistant Career

A registered dental assistant will usually work in a dentist’s private office or assisting a dentist who practices at a hospital or clinic.

The Dental Assistant Job Path

Work Conditions

While this can be a full-time job, most dental assistants work a 35 – 40 hour week, which correlates with the fact that many dentists work only in the evenings at their private practices.

Some may be required to work on the weekend to cater to patients who can only come for treatment on these days. Usually, assistants work in a well-lit area and in close contact with the dentist to aid the dentist as he performs his procedures.

This is not a high-stress level job, but you will be required to be precise in what you do – handing the appropriate dentist equipment, ensuring that instruments are adequately sterilized, etc. You will also be required to maintain the highest hygiene levels to prevent the spread of infections by wearing gloves and a mask while working.

Administrative Duties

As a dentist’s assistant, your administrative duties may include:

  • Making appointments.
  • Maintaining the appointment schedule accurately.
  • Receiving patients.
  • Maintaining their records and making them available whenever the dentist requires them.

You may also be required to draw up bills and receive payments and monitor the stock of supplies, and place orders when needed.

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Future Job Outlook

This is a promising career, as dental assistant jobs are projected to grow at around 36% in the next 8 – 10 years. It is expected that openings will exist for both entry-level as well as experienced registered dental assistants.

One of the contributing factors is that older people today can retain their teeth for a longer time thanks to technological advancements, thus providing a larger market of patients. Another reason is that many in this position leave to pursue further education or another job. Therefore there is always a need for replenishment.

Dental and Laboratory Duties

When a patient arrives for treatment, you will have to make sure he is comfortable and conduct any preparatory work required before the dentist begins his procedure. You will have to sterilize all instruments and hand these to the dentist as and when he needs them.

During operations, you will also have to keep the patient’s mouth dry using a suction device. You may have to assist the dentist while removing sutures after surgery. You may also have to work in the laboratory, prepare teeth impressions, make a temporary crown, or process x-rays films.

Job Advancements

This position can serve as an excellent training ground for those who wish to pursue an education as a dental hygienist or dental radiologist. This would require the completion of formal education courses.

Other options include moving on to become a dental assistant’s instructor, an office manager, a sales representative for dental products, or a dental insurance claims processor.

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