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Top 5 Misconceptions About Being a Dental Assistant

Posted October 4, 2018

Lorena S. Meza, RDA

The decision to become a dental assistant may be one of the most important choices a person makes in his or her lifetime. With the proper tools and resources, an individual can weigh the pros and cons of becoming a dental assistant and determine if he or she has what it takes to succeed in this high-demand field.

For those who are thinking of pursuing a career as a dental assistant, it’s important to know what to expect. Yet misconceptions exist that can make it tough for an individual to prepare for a dental assistant career. Luckily for you, we’re here to help differentiate the misconceptions from the realities so you can make an informed decision on whether this is the right career path for you.

Now, let’s take a look at the top five misconceptions about being a dental assistant.

Misconception #1: There is little to no demand for dental assistants in the United States.

Reality: Dental assisting is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the United States.

Dental assisting is one of the 25 fastest-growing occupations in the United States, according to the Dental Assisting National Board. Don’t expect the demand for dental assistants to slow down any time soon, either. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 19% between 2016 and 2026—faster than the average of all other U.S. occupations. Additionally, BLS states the aging population and ongoing research into the link between oral health and general health may drive the demand for dental assistants in the years to come.   

Misconception #2: There is no room to grow as a dental assistant.

Reality: There is no shortage of career growth opportunities for dental assistants.  

Dental assisting opens the door to a wide range of career opportunities in the dental industry. There are many advanced certifications you can obtain during your dental assistant career. For example, some dental assistants choose to become certified dental assistants or expanded function dental assistants. Meanwhile, others may eventually become dental hygienists or dentists. Dental assistants may also decide to pursue roles as dental laboratory technicians, office managers, or educators. Regardless of your dental industry career goals, dental assisting enables you to seek various career growth opportunities at your convenience.

Misconception #3: The day-to-day work of dental assistants can be boring and tedious.

Reality: Each day presents new opportunities and challenges for dental assistants.  

Dental assisting is a dream come true for those who embrace new opportunities and challenges. A dental assistant is a vital resource for patients and dentists alike, and as such, plays a key role in the success or failure of a dental practice. Typically, a dental assistant interacts with every patient who walks through a dental practice’s door. He or she often helps ease patients’ fear of the dentist and provides patients with instructions for proper oral health care. Other day-to-day activities include preparing patients for dental treatments and procedures, processing X-rays, scheduling patient appointments, and sterilizing dental instruments. Dental assistants may also perform one or more of the following regulated tasks based on the state where they work: coronal polishing, sealant application, fluoride application, and topical anesthetics application.

Misconception #4: All dental assistants are required to work full-time.

Reality: Dental assistants often enjoy flexible work schedules.

 If you prioritize flexibility, a career as a dental assistant may be ideal. Dental assistants are in high demand, and both full- and part-time positions are available at dental practices across the United States. Some dental assistants work nights or weekends or divide their time between two or more dental offices. Other dental assistants prefer full-time roles at dental practices. Furthermore, both full- and part-time dental assistants may be eligible for paid holidays, sick leave, and vacation, 401(k) or pension plans, and other benefits.

Misconception #5: Dental assistant training programs fail to prepare students for the day-to-day activities of dental assistants.

Reality: Dental assistant training programs are available that offer the ideal combination of hands-on and classroom lessons.

A dental assistant training program may seem like a long and costly commitment at first. Fortunately, there are programs available with classes that can fit any schedule. These programs blend hands-on and classroom lessons and allow you to work with dentists and other industry experts to build your dental assistant skill set. These programs also provide students with access to state-of-the-art dental equipment and technologies that dental assistants use day after day. They often help students with job placement at dental practices nationwide following graduation, too. As a result, a dental assistant training program provides students with the tools, resources, and support that they need to succeed.

Clearly, there is a lot to like about dental assisting. If you want to pursue an exciting career in the dental industry, you should consider dental assistant training. By enrolling in a dental assistant training program today, you can take the first step toward becoming a successful dental assistant.

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