DentalPost takes a look at what are the duties and responsibilities of a Dental Assistant.
A dental assistant is a certified health care professional who performs a wide range of tasks in a dental practice. As a dental assistant, you would work chairside, assisting the dentist during dental procedures, help with patient care, and perform laboratory work. Depending on the size and nature of the dental practice, the dental assistant job could also involve in the front office and back-office operations.
As a dental assistant, your core responsibility is to provide chairside assistance to the dentist. You would also carry out preliminary and post-procedural functions and provide guidance to the patient regarding oral health.
The job involves a wide spectrum of services and you could be asked to perform any or all of them. If a dental office employs several dental assistants, you could have the opportunity to perform only a few specialized tasks from this spectrum.
The occupational setting is a clean and well-lit environment in a dental office that houses a private or group practice, or possibly in a hospital. You could also be employed by an insurance company, a supplier of dental equipment, or a manufacturer.
Dental assistant jobs vary according to the level of certification and the laws and requirements of the state where the dentist’s office is located. In some states, dental assistants can begin their careers with job training and earn a certification after completing a stipulated number of work hours.
You can earn an American Dental Certificate or diploma, which typically takes nine to eleven months to complete if you enroll full time. Or you could choose an associate degree, which takes around two years. You have the option of enrolling part-time while you complete on-the-job training.
There are no four-year baccalaureate degrees offered for this profession, but you could use credits earned from associate degree coursework towards a specialized degree such as dental hygienist.
Associate degrees in specialized fields, such as pediatric dentistry, periodontics, endodontics, and others, are available from accredited institutions.
For an entry-level job, however, a basic certification will suffice, and there are a few types.
The DANB has compiled a list of state-wise requirements for dental assistants to be authorized as EFDA.
After gaining a few years’ experience as a dental assistant, you can pursue a different path in your career, such as dental lab technician, dental equipment sales representative, dental office administrator, dental hygienist, or dentist.
Ready to begin?