Dental assistants essential career information:
- 2011 median pay: $34,500
- 2011, number of jobs: 300,160
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 31 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Postsecondary non-degree award
Dental assistants; what they do:
Dental Assistants are the smiling public face of a dental practice, as they’re usually the first professional a patient interacts with when visiting the dentist. A dental assistant’s tasks vary depending on who they work for and in what state.
A dental assistant career includes greeting patients, speaking with them about proper dental hygiene, and help preparing them for dental treatments and procedures. A dental assistant has all necessary tools sterilized and laid out for the dentist when they arrive to work on a patient.
Dental assistants typically remain nearby throughout a dental procedure or treatment, handing the dentist tools as needed and keeping patients’ mouth dry. A dental assistant career may also include processing x-rays and performing lab work with direction from a dentist.
Depending on the states, dental assistants may also conduct sealant application, fluoride application, coronal polishing, or apply topical anesthetics.
Dental assistants perform some administrative work, keeping records of dental treatment, scheduling patient appointments, and working with patients on payment and billing.
Receive Free Info about a Matching
Online Degree for this Career
Dental Assistants job titles:
- Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
- Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
- Expanded Duties Dental Assistant (EDDA)
- Orthodontic Assistant
- Certified Registered Dental Assistant
- Oral Surgery Assistant
- Surgical Dental Assistant
Dental Assistants Education, Certification and License Requirements
The educational requirements for dental assistants vary by state. Some states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program and perhaps pass a state exam. The typical dentist assistant program such as a certificate in Dental Assisting or a Diploma in Dental Assisting program take one year to complete, however some schools offer a two-year Dental Assistant Associate degree program.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has approved more than 285 dental-assisting training programs.
Some states do not require formal education; people seeking a dental assistant career may learn their duties through on-the-job training.
Dental Assistants programs cover subjects such as:
- Oral anatomy
- Oral health and nutrition
- Preventative dentistry techniques
- Dental terminology
- Dental diseases and pathology
Some states require certification for dental assistants, although the certification requirements vary by state. To become certified dental assistants must pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam, provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Some states require dental assistants to become licensed or register with DANB to complete specific tasks, such as coronal polishing, in a dentist’s office.
Begin a Rewarding Career
Learn about an Online Dental Assistant Certificate
Dental Assistants Job Outlook
Forecast: 31 percent employment growth for dental assistants from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Dental health increasingly linked to general health, increases people’s concern for their oral health which increases the number of people visiting dentist’s offices and the demand for dental assistants. People keeping their original teeth longer than past generations, also increases the demand for dental assistants.
Dental Assistants Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $34,500
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $41,310
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $28,380
- Dentists’ Offices