Dental Assistant

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Oral health care is important, though it is too often overlooked in today’s fast-paced society. In fact, periodontitis, a gum disease that often causes tooth loss, is linked to causing health issues such as heart disease and pneumonia, according to the American Dental Association. Fortunately, oral disease is easily prevented through regular visits to the dentist. Dentists are responsible for treating dental conditions and keeping the teeth of patients healthy. Dental assistants work with dentists, providing them with valuable aide to keep patients happy, procedures efficient, and the dental office running smoothly and efficiently. Dental assistants prepare the instruments and materials that are required for each patient. During dental procedures, they work alongside the dentist and often hand the dentist instruments while keeping the patientís mouth dry and clear. Dental assistants also make molds of the patientís mouth, construct temporary crowns, and treat the patientís oral sutures or stitches.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Dental Assistant?
Health care is one of the most stable and improving industries in the work force today. There will always be a need for health care professionals due to the complexity of treating the human body, the unpredictability of disease and the inevitability of aging. Due to this ongoing need, health-related jobs will continue to rise as medical technology advances. In particular, dental health will take off as more people become educated about the importance of oral hygiene and maintenance. Job openings for dental assistants are rapidly increasing. In fact, employment opportunities for dental assistants are projected to improve an amazing 36 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the population booms, the need for dental assistants to help dentists handle the increase in patients will become more apparent. Dental assistants earn an average salary of $32,380 annually, according to the most current information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Dental Assistant?
Although there are no formal education requirements for dental assistants in most states, more employers are actively seeking applicants who have at least an associate degree in dental assisting or dental health due to the competitive job market. The associate programs that aspiring dental assistants pursue should be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Most associate degree programs take about two years to complete. During this time, students should take courses in biology, anatomy, business skills, and other classes that will help them build their knowledge of business practices and dental care. Some states require that dental assistants be licensed, though the mandates for the occupation vary from state to state. Prospective dental assistants should check with their local dental accrediting agency to determine if licensure is required to practice. Most dental assisting skills are learned on the job site, such as the names of the specific instruments used and the way medical files are updated and organized.