Learn how to work in dentistry
Learn how to work in dentistry

It should go without saying that working in any medical field is a great place to be. For one thing, the vast majority of the services provided aren’t going anywhere. People will always need them. Furthermore, this industry can be very rewarding on a personal level. Your job literally involves helping people, often in very important ways. If you’re interested in this field, you may wish to start perusing dental assistant jobs.

What Do Dental Assistant Jobs Entail?

In simplest terms, dental assistant jobs involve doing what the dentist tells you to do. Your job, after all, is to assist them in their role. However, to be more specific, in this position, you will:

  • Perform administrative work
  • Prepare patients for treatment and cleaning
  • Sterilize instruments
  • Carry out some forms of cleaning the patient’s mouth
  • Process x-rays
  • Maintain patient records
  • Answer the phones

All dental assistant jobs are different so what you do will largely depend on where you work.

It should go without saying that you will need a certain amount of people skills to work in this role. As you probably know, most people don’t especially enjoy going to the dentist, so part of your job will involve comforting these patients and being friendly. As we touched on above, you may also need to answer phones and otherwise make the practice’s first impressions with many patients.

The Future Outlook for Dental Assistant Jobs

The future looks good for those who are pursuing dental assistant jobs. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be roughly 58,000 new dental assistant jobs created by the year 2024. This would represent an 18% growth in employment, which is much better than what you’ll find with other industries.

Dental assistant explaining a dental X ray to a patient.

If you’re interested in learning more about dental assistant jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a lot more information.

However, if you’re curious as to why these jobs are becoming so popular, that is a subject we can tackle here. It’s important to understand this, too, as it should inform your decision about whether or not to enter the field.

First, younger generations continue to take better care of their teeth than those who came before them. Amongst other things, this means that they visit the dentist far more often.

Second, health insurance is now much more widespread than it’s ever been before. This access to health care means more people are deciding to see dentists on a regular basis.

Third, the world has been introduced to an expanded list of dental procedures just in the last ten years or so. Teeth whitening is only one example that has boomed recently. Even the ways people replace missing teeth or otherwise receive dentures has increased significantly. All of this equates to more people visiting the dentist. Some of these procedures, like whitening, can be carried out by dental assistants, as well.

What Kind of Education Is Required to Become a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistant jobs are only open to people who have the required credentials. Given the nature of this work and how careful you need to show proof you’ve received the required education before you begin working on people’s mouths.

That being said, there is no one form of education you must receive before you can begin working in this role. Some people will go through some form of college. Others will take a dental assistance program or complete some version of secondary school.

An empty dentist's office with advanced dental equipment.

Whatever the case, you should also expect a fair amount of education that comes on the job. You’ll learn a lot simply by shadowing another dental assistant and working with the dentist. This is why the educational requirement isn’t that big of a deal. Even if you don’t have a stacked resume, if you are enthusiastic and hard working, many dental practices will give you an opportunity and handle the training themselves.

You’ll also want to check with your region for any laws or regulations specific to dental assistant jobs. It’s possible that there will be a minor amount of red tape involved to begin working in this field.

Part-Time or Full-Time Hours Possible

One of the many advantages to working as a dental assistant is that you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding positions for part and full-time schedules. This makes it a great opportunity for a parent or anyone else with other obligations they need to make time for.

While this isn’t the type of role that could ever lead to self-employment, it’s still nice to have some flexibility when it comes to deciding how many hours you’ll be working every week.

Anyone can become a dental assistant with enough drive. The benefits of this role certainly seem worth it. Now that you understand more about this type of work, nothing should hold you back from pursuing such an opportunity.

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