Dental assistants are professionals that work closely with dentists and others to provide an accurate, efficient, and durable dental treatment. Specialists sterilize instruments, use suction devices to remove excess saliva, analyze dental radiographs, take dental impressions, and generally perform all the tasks the dentists required before, during, and after finishing the dental treatment.
All dental assistants need to be licensed in order to work in the United States. In spite of the fact that most of them get their skills and instruction in the workplace, they do need to enroll in specific programs in various technical institutes, universities, or trade schools. Once enrolled in a dental assistant school program, they will be taught the basics of chemistry, office practices, biology, and a variety of other subjects of utmost importance. However, besides formal learning, a truly skilled dental assistant must also possess impeccable manual dexterity and must work well in a team.
Before enrolling in a school program for dental assistants, it is important to make sure that the program is accredited by the CDAADA, a commission that deals with assessing and accrediting various education institutes. At the end of the program, you will sit for the final exam that is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board, and if you pass, you will officially become a certified dental assistant and will be able to work with a dentist to gather more experience.
Besides sterilizing all the dental equipment and taking impressions, dental assistants also deal with a variety of other tasks. These include helping the dentist remove cavities to taking care of administrative tasks, such as patient files or appointments. It is also the duty of the dental assistant to give the patient all the necessary post-operative instructions and information. Dental assistants must also mix the different dental materials that are used during the treatment, and prepare the patient and explain every step of the procedure as well as keep track of the office inventory.
Additional responsibilities of these professionals include handing the instruments to the dentist, keeping the mouth of the patient clean and dry, examine radiographs and dental x-ray films, remove sutures and excess material used during the filling process, clean removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. The administrative tasks include ordering various supplies and materials, receiving payments, sending bills to patients, as well as keeping the treatment records accurate and complete.
The average income for a dental assistant will depend on the state where you practice your trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that by 2022, there will be in excess of 74,000 new openings for dental assistants – that is an increase of 24.5%, making this one of the fastest-growing occupations nation-wide. New dental assistants will be very much in demand in the coming years, meaning that the earning potential will also increase!