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How to Land (and Keep) a Job as a Dental Assistant

Posted April 10, 2019

Adrian Johansen

Those with a keen interest in the dental industry may find incredible job satisfaction as a dental assistant. Not only is this a growing field where you can learn volumes, but this entry-level position could lead to bigger possibilities, including administrative, office, and marketing positions. Starting as a dental assistant could even lead to a fulfilling career as a fully trained dentist.

Heed the tips below for guidance on landing this rewarding job and making it a career:

Specialized Education Gives You a Leg-Up on the Competition

One of the best ways to show your worth is having a solid educational background. The requirements differ based on the state in which you plan to work. While some employers may not have rigorous education requirements (with the intention of training you on the job), others require that you have passed a licensing exam and have credits from an accredited program.

Although most states do not require a license, if you want to separate yourself from the herd, have a few infection control, radiology, chemistry, and anatomy classes under your belt. For more specific requirements, talk to your state’s Board of Dental Examiners.

The Dental Assisting National Board issues certifications. To qualify for a certification, you will either have to graduate from a CODA-accredited dental program, have a minimum of 3,500 hours of approved work experience with a high school degree, or have a former DANB CDA status/degree from a CODA-accredited DDS or DMD program.

Not only will having this education prepare you for the job, but it will show potential employers that you are qualified and serious about your chosen field.

Be Courteous Online When Applying for Jobs

When applying for a dental assistant position, remain professional and courteous from the very start. When you are applying, carefully state your background and make every word count. Use the “think twice, post once” methodology. That means keeping it warm and professional. If you wouldn’t say something to your mother, don’t put it on the application.

If you have a phone interview, take it as seriously as you would if it were in person. Choose a quiet location, speak slowly, write a cheat sheet of discussion points, and ask lots of questions. Remember to be courteous and respectful. If the employer does not think you are taking these first steps seriously, they may dismiss you.

Being courteous is just as important once you land the job. This is the best way to keep the gig. When you are with patients, remember to smile, ask them how they are feeling. Take their mind off of the procedure by talking about their interests or weekend plans.

Create a Relaxing Environment for Patients

As a dental assistant, you are the first point of contact. It is no secret that people can get nervous visiting the dentist, so provide a relaxing environment and try your best to put them at ease. While you go through the procedure, explain the instruments and how using them will improve their ailments.

For the most nervous of patients, tell them about your qualifications and how many patients you see daily. You can also make them feel safe by giving them a hand gesture or signal if they become uneasy and cannot communicate. Finally, while you work, make small talk to take their mind off of the procedure. Gaining a reputation as a pleasant and friendly dental assistant can do wonders for your career.

To make a comfortable atmosphere for your patients, you also need to be relaxed, whether you are still job hunting or you have the job and need to unwind after getting home from a long day on your feet. Some people use essential oils. They provide a breath of fresh air that can quell headaches and offer pain relief. They can also help you get a good night’s sleep. You can also relax with exercise, relaxing music, or by taking a warm bath.

Being a dental assistant is a noble career that can be very educational and fulfilling. Try these steps, put yourself out there, and see the rewards for yourself.


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