According to the U.S. Surgeon General, dental disease is disproportionately found among individuals with special health care needs, with low incomes, and from underrepresented minorities and among those who live in underserved rural, urban, and frontier communities, states the American Dental Education Association. “Special care patients have more dental disease, missing teeth, and difficulty in obtaining dental care than the rest of the population. These inequities challenge us to make adequate investments in a strong dental public health infrastructure that extends beyond the traditional, economically driven model of care. The current model may well serve a majority of U.S. citizens, but it is not achieving universal coverage and equitable access to oral health for everyone.”

Dental care has grown across the country, but there is still a need for improvement, especially in certain segments of the population. That is why more and more dental employers are looking for dental assistants who have professional training and have the skills and knowledge today’s dental facilities need. There is an effort underway to provide more low-income Americans with improved dental care, which will increase the demand for professionally trained dental assistants.

A report from the American Dental Education Association recently stated that “the availability of health care, including oral health care, fulfills a fundamental human need and is necessary for the attainment of general health. Every American should have access to affordable diagnostic, preventive, basic restorative, and primary oral health care services so as to eliminate pain, suffering, and infection.”

More Americans are gaining access to dental care, which is increasing the need for more dental assistants. However, more can be done. “Coverage must ensure that individuals are able to obtain needed oral health care and provide them with protection during a catastrophic health crisis,” the ADEA states. “Oral health care services are proven to be effective in preventing and controlling tooth decay, gum infections, and pain, and can ameliorate the outcomes of trauma. Oral health services should have parity with other medical services within a reformed U.S. health care system. The equitable provision of oral health care services demands a commitment to the promotion of dental public health, prevention, public advocacy, and the exploration and implementation of new models of oral health care that provide care within an integrated health care system.”

In a recent issue of the ADEA’s monthly newsletter, the question of a dentist’s role in offering help for overall health was raised by a leading dental professional.

“Dr. Monty MacNeil, Dean of my alma mater, theUniversity of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, publishedan essay at the beginning of 2013 that posed this question: Should dentists assume a more active role in the provision of primary (medical) care services to the patients we treat?” reports the newsletter. “Monty believes that dentists’ expertise and network of delivery points could be better harnessed, especially given the current and projected shortages of primary care providers. As he suggests in his essay, “This just might be our opportunity as a profession to demonstrate that we are an essential part of health care by providing a carefully selected ‘slice’ of medical services that fit with and reinforce the importance of oral health and quality dental care.”

The question highlights the relationship a dentist has with his or her patients, and a similar relationship exists between patients and dental assistants. It is important for dental assistants to have good communication skills and be able to answer a variety of dental-related questions. Offering overall health advice is not necessarily part of the job description, but the question by Dr. MacNeil highlights some of the roles dental professionals play in the overall medical industry.

The dental industry is experience a growing demand for professionally trained dental assistants and students of the dental assistant training program at Milwaukee Career College are finding out that the dental industry can be a great place to launch a new long-term career.

Those with training from a respected school like the Milwaukee Career College are often presented with multiple opportunities for employment. The demand for dental assistants means some of the best dental facilities are competing with each other for the small pool of applicants available that have professional training. Working in a growing industry is possible and it doesn’t take years of training. The dental assistant field is in need of new professionals who can complete a training program like the one at MCC in a matter of months.