Understanding the Field: What is a Dental Assistant?

Have you dreamed of working in the dental field? Do you like the idea of improving a person’s smile and working alongside a team of professionals? Then it might be time to consider a career as a dental assistant. Dental assistants handle a combination of clinical and administrative work, but their ultimate goal is to care for their patients and keep the office running smoothly. Needless to say, this career is monumental but rewarding on every level.

So, what exactly does one do as a dental assistant? What opportunities are available? What skills are needed for success? How does one become a dental assistant? In this blog, we will go over everything you need to know about this position and how you can get started today.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Dental assistants have a wide range of responsibilities in a dental office—from managing paperwork and scheduling to helping with procedures and performing technical skills.

While regulations vary state to state, dental assistants may be responsible for:

  • Handling X-rays and taking vitals signs
  • Working alongside the dentist during procedures
  • Sterilizing instruments and preparing the rooms
  • Acting as a liaison between the patient and the dentist
  • Insurance claims
  • Office management (scheduling, billing, ordering supplies, etc.)
  • Patient education and advice
  • Placing and removing sealants, sutures, anesthetics, retraction cords, periodontal and surgical dressings, archwires, ligatures, and more
  • Performing intra-oral and extra-oral exams
  • Data collection
  • Basic first aid and CPR
  • Fabricating mouth guards, provisional restorations, and taking impressions
  • Regular cleanings

What Skills Should a Dental Assistant Have?

Dental assistants have some significant responsibilities that require a specific skill set. If you’re looking to be the best at what you do, you should have:

  • An interest in science and math
  • An understanding of the human body and its functions
  • Effective communication skills
  • Manual dexterity
  • The ability to be taught and continuously learn new things
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Empathy and compassion for others
  • A team-player mentality

What are the Career Advantages of being a Dental Assistant?

As it stands, the job market for dental assistants is stable and growing. With oral hygiene being a top priority, the need for dental assistants is consistent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment opportunities for DAs will increase by 7% in the next nine years. On top of a positive job outlook, the dentistry field comes with an expansive list of prospects and advantages.

Dental assistants can find employment opportunities in many places, such as:

  • Private offices
  • Group practices
  • Hospitals and E.R.s
  • Insurance providers
  • Suppliers & Manufacturing companies
  • Military services
  • Educational institutions
  • Public health facilities.

In terms of career advantages, the dental industry can provide:

Versatility: The career of a dental assistant is challenging and will provide chances to assume new roles and perform a variety of tasks that will help you expand your knowledge and advance in your workplace.

Consistent and flexible schedule: In this position, you will have the opportunity to work around your personal life with either a part-time or a full-time schedule.

A healthy work environment: On top of being extremely clean, dental offices are engaging, calm, and sociable—perfect for your mental and emotional well-being.

Personal and professional satisfaction: You will have the chance to interact with many people and provide service and a memorable experience.

Understanding the Field: What is a Dental Assistant?

How Do You Become a Dental Assistant?

To become a dental assistant, you will need to pursue education and training that generally take nine to 11 months to complete. During this time, you will be exposed to several career-specific skills and subjects, including:

  • Oral health care
  • Patient education and proper oral hygiene
  • Lab procedures and testing
  • Management and operations
  • Specialties
  • Anatomy
  • Proper communication

Once you become certified, you will take the Dental Assisting National Board’s Certified Dental Assistant examination. There are also several opportunities to advance your career after obtaining your certification, like associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs.

At Genesis, we will prepare you for your exams and build your skills as a dental assistant by offering extensive in-class instruction and practical training through real-world experience. You’ll have the opportunity to work alongside peers and dental professionals who can help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to schedule a tour, get info on admissions, and learn about our financial aid offers.

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