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A dental assistant is responsible for almost every aspect of patient care that does not involve direct dentistry. Depending on the office you work for, you may find yourself greeting patients, helping them settle into the chair for treatment, sterilizing and caring for the dental equipment, assisting the dentist directly during the procedures, and informing the patient about how to care for their teeth after the visit. Some dental assistants also sort and file patient records and keep the office in order. As a dental assistant, you can earn a comfortable salary and have an opportunity for directly working with dental patients. Your job will be to keep the patient comfortable while the dentist works. Most dental assistants work directly with the dentist by applying the proper suction to keep a patient's mouth dry and handing sterilized tools to the dentist when prompted. The dental assistant has the ability to make sure that a patient feels well cared for and help to ease a patient's nerves about visiting the dentist. In many cases, the patient sees the dental assistant more often than the patient sees the actual dentist.
Dental Assistant Certificates
It is possible to find work as a dental assistant without holding any specific degrees or certifications. The field for dental assistants is steadily becoming more competitive, however, and applicants who hold certification have a better chance at being hired for the best positions. High school students who plan to become dental assistants should concentrate on courses like biology and anatomy to prepare them for working with a dentist. With the growing number of colleges and technical schools that offer dental assistant training, it is a good idea to invest some time in a program that will grant you certification. Many states are beginning to regulate the duties that an unlicensed dental assistant can perform. There is a growing effort to require dental assistants to hold a Certified Dental Assistant credential, which can be acquired through passing a certification exam. Dental assistants are also expected to be qualified to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Dental Assistant Training
Traditionally, most dental assistants have the opportunity to learn their skills while they are working. The dentist will guide you through the more complicated tasks, like helping during dental procedures. Many of the duties of a dental assistant fall into the category of cleaning and preparing the office and equipment, which can be learned on the job. A job applicant who has already been trained in several of the most common dental assistant duties, especially those involving dental procedures, will have a better chance at being hired than someone who has no experience whatsoever.
Dental Assistant Courses and Schools
There are several options for acquiring dental assistant training. Many cities offer technical schools or career colleges that cater their courses specifically to certain career pursuits. Different schools charge different tuition costs, and it is in your best interest to do some research to find out what the costs are for the schools in your area. There are also differences in the detail that different courses offer. The more in depth the training is, the better prepared you will be for the job market when you graduate from the school and are ready to find steady employment.
Dental Assistant Job and Employment
Dental assistants are a necessary part of any successful dentist office. There are many different types of offices that you may have an opportunity to work in. Some practices are very small, and you will be the only employee aside from the dentist. Other clinics employ several dentists and have many dental assistants who work in the same location. Generally an assistant is paired with a specific dentist so that they can create a good working relationship. Dental assistants work for dentists who specialize in treating children, general practitioners, and orthodontists. After gaining a certificate from a dental assistant program, you should be able to find a job in a clinic that specializes in an area that interests you very easily.
General Dental Assistant Salary Range
The overall salary range for dental assistants runs between $24,220 and $48,350 per year. Most dental assistants earn salaries around $35,900 a year. Earnings depend in large part upon the level of training and experience that a person has gained. Dental assistants who are certified to perform more complicated procedures will earn more money than those who have very little training.