How Becoming a Dental Assistant Can Lead to Further Opportunities
Dental chair

What Training Do You Need?

If you're looking to get into a field with plenty of upsides, becoming a dental assistant may be the right choice for you. The dentistry field today is considered a necessary part of healthcare, thanks to increased awareness that poor oral hygiene can be a factor in heart disease and diabetes. Dental assisting is an entry-level position that can lead to further opportunities, and you can become a dental assistant by choosing to attend one of many dental assisting schools.

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Dental Assistant Tasks

Dental assisting jobs may differ from one practice to the next, and there are a wide variety of tasks that may be assigned to you, including:

  • Preparing X-ray equipment and taking X-rays of patients' mouths
  • Processing X-ray film
  • Sterilizing equipment
  • Preparing instruments and materials for use
  • Applying topical anesthetic
  • Removing sutures
  • Making temporary crowns and casts of teeth from mouth impressions

Certain office tasks may also be the responsibility of the dental assistant on a regular or casual basis. These include everything from receiving supplies and obtaining dental records to ordering supplies and confirming appointments.

Candidates for becoming a dental assistant should enjoy working with people and doing the detail-oriented work that is important for running a daily dental practice.

Dental Assistant Training

The amount of training to become a dental assistant can vary from state to state, with more than 30 states requiring that all dental assistants have licenses. If this is the case in your state, then it's unlikely that taking a basic dental assisting course will be enough to find employment. To become licensed, the candidate must pass a written and a practical examination.

Those who attend dental assisting schools can expect classroom learning, laboratory time and practical experience at the school as well as in a dental office. Hands-on training further reinforces what students have learned in class and provides skills for interacting with patients and coworkers in real-life situations.

Opportunities, Benefits and Prospects for Dental Assistants

The dental industry is projected to increase 29 percent from 2006 to 2016. As the entry-level position in that industry, dental assisting provides an average starting salary of between $30,000 and $36,000 per year.

In addition, dental assistants enjoy working great hours with numerous benefits. Job advancement possibilities include becoming an office manager, working for an insurance company as an insurance claim processor or getting additional schooling to become a dental hygienist.

High school students interested in dental assisting careers should enroll in biology, chemistry, health and office classes to meet dental assisting school requirements.

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