A Dental Assistant or a DA is a medical professional that helps to assist dentists in their treatment of patients. They have to be qualified in a wide range of clinical and administrative duties. Dental assistants are oftentimes first and foremost the customer liaisons of the dental office. A DA is usually a Dental Offices’ first line of defense when it comes to the “bed-side,” or “chair-side” impressions your patients receive. They help the dentist perform all of their usual procedures and check-ups, as well as providing additional care and assistance.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
While the duties of each Dental Assistant are unique and tailored specifically to each dental office, there are certain capabilities that every dental assistant must master, such as:
- Preparing the patient’s room for the upcoming procedure
- Welcoming, seating, and draping the patient
- Answering questions and requests from the patient
- Sterilizing and delivering instruments for the dentist
- Helping the dentist manage and administer emergency medical care
- Maintaining a safe and sanitary environment
- Keeping diligent and accurate documentation
- Contributing to a dental team by adapting to the specific needs and duties of your position
All of these responsibilities are potential duties that you may have as a prospective dental assistant, and you must be properly trained to effectively perform all of these tasks safely and competently.
Work Environments for Dental Assistants
You may be wondering where dental assistants can find employment, but there isn’t just one correct answer. There are a variety of environments to choose from in this field including:
- Solo Dental Offices
- Group Practices
- Specialty Practices
- Non-profit Clinics
- Hospital Clinics
Because there are so many workplace options, you should be able to find the perfect prospect in the ideal environment for you and your lifestyle. Additionally, you’ll have the numbers on your side. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between the years of 2016 and 2026, employment prospects for the field will grow up to 19 percent, which is significantly faster than the national average for other careers.
Are You Well Suited for the Job?
Being a dental assistant is a demanding job both physically and mentally. It takes a certain type of person to be able to be a successful dental assistant. These are the most essential skills when it comes to administering the best care for your patient, and if you possess most or all of the following qualities, it might mean that you will find success in this field.
The ideal Dental Assistant:
- Is detail-oriented enough to keep proper medical records
- Is good when working with their hands in small spaces, such as the mouth
- Has excellent interpersonal skills when it comes to dealing with patients
- Has exceptional listening capabilities when comprehending patient information
- Is incredibly organized in providing information and assistance to the dentist
Getting Your Certification
In order to assure that you’re providing safe and effective assistance, each state has its own regulations and requirements for certification. Check here to find out what they are for your state, but generally, for dental assistants to receive their license, they have to achieve standards such as:
- Having the minimum education level of a High School Diploma
- Completing a minimum of 8 hours of on-the-job training
- Completing a board-approved course in the anticipated field
- Maintaining up-to-date CPR certification
Local dental assistant programs like the one at Genesis Career College offers board-certified training in all the necessary procedures, techniques, and industry standards that you will need to know to become a qualified dental assistant. Schedule a tour today to get started!