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Dental Assistant Job Description, Career as a Dental Assistant, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

assistants dentist office programs

Education and Training: High school or dental assisting program

Salary: Median—$13.62 per hour

Employment Outlook: Excellent

Definition and Nature of the Work

Dental assistants perform a number of duties in a dentist's office. Some of their tasks may be clerical. Dental assistants with office duties schedule appointments, keep records, receive payments from patients, and order supplies. When patients come to the office, dental assistants locate their medical records for the dentist's use.

Dental assistants prepare patients for the dentist's examination. In addition, they perform chair-side duties, such as handing the dentist the proper materials and tools. They operate the suction hose that keeps the patient's mouth dry so the dentist can work on it. Dental assistants often operate X-ray machines. Sometimes dental assistants make an impression of a patient's mouth or teeth. They may also sterilize instruments, develop X-rays, and mix compounds for cleaning or filling teeth.

Most dental assistants work in private offices for one or more dentists. Other assistants work in public health departments, clinics, hospitals, and dental schools.

Education and Training Requirements

Dental assistants need a high school diploma. Courses in biology, chemistry, health, and office practices are helpful. Many dental assistants learn their skills on the job.

An increasing number of dental assistants receive training in dental assisting programs at colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes. Students are given classroom, laboratory, and preclinical instruction. The Commission on Dental Accreditation within the American Dental Association (ADA) approved 265 dental-assisting training programs in 2005. These are generally one- or two-year programs that lead to a certificate or to an associate's degree. Graduates of accredited programs can become licensed or registered dental assistants if they meet the requirements of their states.

Getting the Job

If you go to school to learn to be a dental assistant, the placement office can help you find a job. You can also apply directly to dentists' offices, hospitals, and A dental assistant performs chair-side duties that include handing the dentist the proper tools and operating the suction hose that keeps the patient's mouth dry. (Photograph by Kelly A. Quin. Thomson Gale. Reproduced by permission.) private clinics. To get a job with the government, apply to take the necessary civil service test. Check with state and private employment agencies. Also check newspaper want ads and job banks on the Internet.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Dental assistants can advance with experience and further training. In a large dental office, they may become supervisors of other assistants. By taking further dental courses, they can qualify to become dental hygienists or dental laboratory technicians.

The outlook is excellent through the year 2014, with employment expected to grow much faster than average. More assistants should be needed as the field of dental care continues to grow. In addition to new jobs being created, assistants will be needed to replace those who retire. Expanding population, the growing awareness of the importance of dental care, and increasing availability of dental insurance should also add to the demand for dental assistants.

Working Conditions

Most dental offices are comfortable and clean. Dental assistants deal with many kinds of people. They may have to comfort frightened children or calm worried parents. They must also be careful in their work, especially when handling X-ray and dental equipment.

Dental assistants generally work forty hours a week. Some work part time. Assistants are often expected to work on Saturdays.

Where to Go for More Information

American Dental Assistants Association
35 E. Wacker Dr., Ste. 1730
Chicago, IL 60601-2211
(312) 541-1550
http://www.dentalassistant.org

American Dental Association
211 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611-2678
(312) 440-2500
http://www.ada.org

National Association of Dental Assistants
900 S. Washington St., Ste.
G13 Falls Church, VA 22046-4020
(703) 237-8616

Earnings and Benefits

Dental assistants earn a median wage of $13.62 per hour. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations. Other benefits vary, depending on the employer. Publicly employed dental assistants generally receive the same benefits as other hospital or health agency workers.

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almost 5 years ago

i want to be dental assisant

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over 9 years ago

I was came across your website as I searched for a job. I have read the information and notice the duties of a Dental assistant. I am currently working at a Dental office, as a Dental ssistant. However I feel like I have more duties than what other offices required. Can you please give me advice whether I am doint to much for my title.I work 4 days a week and start 7:30 to 5:00, by the time I leave the office I am drained out and frustrated. My office sees between 18 to 20 patients a day, most of the time we do about 3-4 crowns a day. My duties start ( vacum the office, set up rooms, sit patients take x-rays, take impressions, sterilization, clean up rooms,answer phones,clean x-ray maxhines,clean autoclave,place orders for materials keep inventory,chair side assisting, clean lab, mop operatorys,take trash out,release patients,other little things. My question isdo you think that my duties are too much for one individual like myself? Do you believe its fair?



I hope you can reply by giving me some advice.



thank you



Rebecca

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over 7 years ago

hi i was wondering what people ususally start off at as a dental assistant.. cause i think im kinda interested in doing it.. depending on how much they make...

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about 9 years ago

this was excellent info for my senior report on dental assisting. thank you!

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about 7 years ago

I received my dental assisting certificate in 2003, but haven't used it since 2004. Would I need to get re-certified to work at a dental office?

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almost 6 years ago

I am trying to get into this program but now alot of people shared their experience with me and they say that it is not a good experience doing it. so i am thinking about going for it or change my major.

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over 6 years ago

I did a Dental Assisting program and I've had no luck getting a job. That was almost a year ago. I'm discouraged now, and feel like it was a mistake. Also I went into this career because I thought it was friendly and exciting and some ppl at certain offices couldn't have been more rude. Now I feel like it was a waste of time and money. I'm not really sure what I want to do now.

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about 7 years ago

I am joining in the jobless list. Please if you need a dental assistant in the state of Utah let me know. Thank you very much.

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about 7 years ago

So I'm about to start my Dental Asst. Class in Feb. I am in NY, but I am not sure if I'll be here forever. Are other states reciprocal to NY dental asst certifications?

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over 7 years ago

Hello Tonya,

If you are still seeking employment contact me, I am recruiter...

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about 8 years ago

Hello, I am a dental assistant in need of employment right now. I have over ten years of experience. Chair-side, x-rays,impressions,pouring models and well as trimming.Digital rays, computer charting and scheduling. Assisting with all dental procedures. I currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,however I am willing to relocate if need be. if there is anyone that may need an assistant please let me know.



Thank you for your time.

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about 8 years ago

Answer to Rebecca: I also do all what you are doing and Im paid 22$/hr in Canmore Alberta. what about your wage and in what country are you ?



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about 9 years ago

Im doing a paper in school about becoming a dentist and i know you have to take a special test and i was wondering what is test going to be about?

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over 9 years ago

I myself work for a very busy dentist we run 3 to 4 rooms at a time from fillings crowns and endo's etc.. I have just went over the supervisor's head and went straight to the doctor I work with and asked for a raise. Now I have been promoted to head dental assistant with a nice raise. Also I do everything you said but we are highly staffed with front desk persons,but everything else sounds about normal.

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almost 5 years ago

i want to be dental assisant

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over 4 years ago

yhu suck