Cosmetic Dental Assistants play a supportive role in a dentist’s office in the field of cosmetic dentistry such as veneers, teeth whitening, enameloplasty, and orthodontics. Their responsibilities include sterilizing dental instruments, handing instruments to the dentist, using equipment to keep patients’ mouths dry during procedures, casting impressions of teeth, taking x-rays and providing patient care. They also perform some administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, patient billing, record keeping, ordering supplies etc. In addition, they educate patients on proper oral hygiene.
Cosmetic Dental Assistants mostly work in dentists’ offices or oral health maintenance organizations. They work under the direct supervision of dentists and may work closely with dental hygienists in their day-to-day activities. They usually work full time. However, they may work in evenings or weekends, depending on their responsibilities and office settings.
There are various education programs to become a Cosmetic Dental Assistant, such as high school diploma, certificate and associate degree programs from accredited institutions. High school students may choose the subjects including anatomy, biology, chemistry etc., and then take training on the job.
However, the job aspirants need to complete dental-assisting training programs, approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). The two-year long training programs include classroom learning and laboratory work in which students learn about teeth, jaws, gums, hands on training and the medical equipment that dentists use
Certification and Licensure
Since Cosmetic Dental Assistants are required to be licensed in many states in USA, the aspiring candidates need to complete a training program and pass an examination. The candidates can also obtain exam-based certification administered by the Dental Assisting National Board.
Apart from clinical knowledge, Cosmetic Dental Assistants possess various skills such as attention to detail, empathy towards patients, ability to work well in a team-oriented environment, listening abilities, understanding of cosmetic dental terminologies, ability to monitor medical equipment, effective communication and interpersonal skills, competent in computer skills etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Cosmetic 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, higher than the average for all occupations. The average annual salary of a Cosmetic Dental Assistant was $34,500 in May 2012.