Dental Assistants play a key role in dental care settings by performing varieties of tasks, ranging from patient care to administrative and laboratory duties. They assist the Dentists while providing dental treatment to the patients of all age groups. Their responsibilities include preparing patients; examining rooms for dental procedures; handing required instruments to dentists during procedures; sterilizing instruments; taking and exposing x-rays; providing CPR, first aid and adjunctive services in emergency situation; providing patient education and post-operative instructions for proper dental hygiene and nutritional intake; maintaining records of dental treatments; and performing other duties assigned to them.
Dental Assistants may work in different environments such as hospitals, private dental offices, group practices, armed services, dental manufacturing companies, educational institutions etc. However, they work under direct supervision of dentists and may work closely with dental hygienists in their working environments.
To become a Dental Assistant, the aspiring candidates have to earn at least a high school diploma, certificate or an associate degree programs before completing the dental assisting programs, accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Dental assisting programs usually take 9 to 11 months to complete. The programs include classroom and laboratory work in which students learn about teeth, gums, jaws, dental science and other areas that dentists work on and the instruments that dentists use. The students also gain some practical experiences through these programs. .
Certification and Licensure
Since a Dental Assistant requires to be licensed in most of the states, the aspiring candidates need to pass the Licensure examination. To obtain professional certification, the Dental Assistants have to pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Dental Assistant possess various skills such as high level of attention to detail; ability to work well in a team-oriented environment, excellent organizational skills, good listening abilities, efficient in manual dexterity, instruments management abilities, pleasant communication and interpersonal activities, competent in computer skills etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Dental Assistant remains excellent across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 25% from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. The average annual salary of a Dental Assistant was $34,500 in May 2012.