Do you want to begin dental assistant training as part of your commitment to beginning a new career? Dental assistants’ daily duties range from providing patient care and tasks such as taking x-rays to scheduling appointments and recordkeeping. If you are interested in a career in the ever-expanding healthcare industry and enjoy making a difference in the lives of patients, dental assistant training may be right for you.
Dental assistant training: Background
Dental assistants perform a variety of clinical and administrative tasks related to the normal operation of a dentist’s office. Among the tasks they are typically responsible for performing are
- Working with patients and making them comfortable while stilling in the dental chair, and preparing them for treatments and procedures
- Sterilizing dental instruments
- Preparing the work area for patient treatment by placing dental instruments and other materials
- Assisting dentists during procedures
- Keeping patients’ mouths dry by using suction hoses and other equipment
- Instructing patients in proper dental hygiene
- Processing x rays and completing lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
- Keeping dental treatment records
- Scheduling appointments for patient
- Working with patients on billing and payment
Assistants who perform lab tasks often work under the direction of the dentist, and may create temporary crowns or prepare materials for casts of teeth. In some states where regulations allow, after completing dental assistant training, dental assistants may perform additional clinical duties including
- Coronal polishing. This includes removing soft deposits such as plaque to give teeth a cleaner appearance.
- Sealant application. Painting a thin plastic substance over teeth that seals out food particles and acid-producing bacteria in order to protect teeth.
- Fluoride application. Another anti-cavity measure that helps to clean teeth and gums.
- Topical anesthetics application. Topical anesthetics temporarily numb the area where the dentist will be working to minimize pain during procedures.
Okay, I want to take dental assistant training. How do I do it?
High school students who are interested in dental assistant training can begin by taking biology, chemistry, and anatomy courses. However, in some states it is required to take formal dental assistant training from an accredited program, and pass a state exam. Dental assistant training programs are provided by a host of community colleges or technical or trade schools. Most dental assistant training programs last about one to two years, and the student is awarded a certificate, diploma or degree upon completion.
Dental assistant training programs usually include classroom and laboratory work where students learn about teeth, gums, jaws and other areas pertinent to the dental industry, as well as dental instruments. In some states dental assistant training students must pass the Certified Dental Assistant exam from the Dental Assisting National Board.
How do I know I’ll be good at dental assistant training?
Qualities that good dental assistants possess include attention to detail, interpersonal skills, listening skills, and organizational skills. These skills will help you serve the dentist, patients, and co-workers in a more complete way, and afford you the opportunity to find success in the job.
What are my job prospects if I take Dental assistant training?
Dental assistant training offers a positive job outlook. As part of the healthcare industry, which continues to grow at a rapid rate, dental assisting offers a variety of new job opportunities in the next decade. In fact, as a profession dental assisting is expected to grow 25 percent between 2012 and 2022, an increase of almost 75,000 new jobs. That means for students taking dental assistant training, it is very likely that there will be many open dental assisting positions, and no shortage of job opportunities both for new dental assistants and those already in the industry.
Are you interested in dental assistant training? There are many programs out there that can help you develop dental assisting skills. Be sure your school will help you learn the skills you need to find employment and career opportunities as a dental assistant, a growing, fulfilling occupation in the healthcare industry that you can find success, if you have the right background. Dental assistant training opportunities abound. Do you want to take the next step in your career?