Becoming a Dental Assistant

Not to be confused with a Dentist, the roles of Dental Assistants vary from patient care to laboratory duties. They schedule the appointments with patients, receive them, maintain the records, send invoices, receive payments and take care of dental supplies and materials. The Dental Assistants also prepare the dental procedures and give advice and tips to the patients for post-treatment recovery.

Educational Requirements:

Education & Training: For Dental Assistants, it is not required to hold any Bachelor’s Degree from medical school. They can get their formal education at any community colleges, vocational schools or technical institutes. Most dental assisting programs take nine to eleven months.

Accreditation: The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association provides accrediting dental assisting programs. The US has approximately 270 CODA-accredited dental assisting programs.

Certification: Certification is very much essential for the Dental Assistants. They will have to undergo the Dental Assisting National Board’s (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination to become a Certified Dental Assistant and add more credibility to their profiles. Dental assistants become eligible to take the CDA examination only if they complete a dental assisting program accredited by the CODA.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Preparing dental instruments during treatment
  • Compiling patients’ dental records and study those
  • Assisting the Dentists during patient procedure
  • Instructing patients on proper oral healthcare
  • Taking X-Rays
  • Applying anesthetics on patients whenever needed

Salary & Job Outlook: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job outlook for the Dental Assistants is expected to grow at 25% (much faster than the average) during the period of 2012-2022. The average salary of Dental Assistants was $34,500 per year or $16.59 per hour as of May 2012.