Is a Career in Dental Assisting right for me?
Are you interested in pursuing a career in dental assisting? Training for a career in dental assisting can be both rewarding and lucrative. With only a training certificate or a degree from a two-year Associate's program, you will be qualified to take on dental assistant responsibilities and begin earning a professional wage.
Some of the most tangible rewards of being a dental assistant are great pay, benefits, and regularly-scheduled work hours. Dental assistants also often have the advantage of working closely with patients, sometimes even more closely than the dentist. As a dental assistant, your responsibilities will range from preparation and sterilization of dental equipment to making the patient as comfortable as possible while waiting for the dentist to come into the examination room.
Dental assistants are usually trained in dental assistance programs offered by local community colleges, trade schools or technical institutes. When searching for the best training program, you should select a program that is accredited by the American Dental Association. There are currently over two hundred approved dental assistant training programs in the U.S. These include both classroom and laboratory instruction as well as practical experience through internships, and typically take a year to complete.
A thorough dental assistant training program will teach you about the health and hygiene of the mouth, as well as the operation of many of the different dental instruments. Some of the areas of study include oral anatomy, microbiology, dental terminology, infection control and pain management. Completing an accredited training program will help you increase your starting salary as a new dental assistant. You will also be more prepared to train as a dental hygienist should you choose to pursue further career studies in dentistry.
Some of the responsibilities of a dental assistant include the preparation of medications and sterilization of instruments necessary for the dental procedure. Additionally, you will be qualified to take x-rays and instruct patients on post-operative care. You will need to use a mask, goggles and gloves throughout the work day to insure a sterile environment and also protect yourself from potential harm.
Depending on where you live, you may be required to take a licensing exam in the form of both a practical and written test. Often, there will also be a continuing education requirement in order to maintain a dental assistant's license. As a certified and licensed dental assistant, you will command a greater salary than those who are not certified. You will also be able to take on more dental assistant responsibilities than an unlicensed assistant.
Pursuing a career in dental assisting is a great way to get experience in the field of dentistry while also enjoying job satisfaction, a great salary and great benefits. It is also a building block to pursuing further career studies in dentistry.