Is Dental Assisting A Good Job?

A career as a dental assistant can be stimulating and demanding.  Dental assistants support the dentist and perform a range of jobs that will streamline the treatment process.  The job may vary from day to day and it can be a very fascinating profession. If you are interested in becoming a dental assistant, you can take a look at the details that we’ve compiled for you.

Job Description
A routine dental procedure involves work on the patient along with supportive tasks like mixing cements, sterilizing the dental chair, coordinating reports etc. These procedures can eat into the dentist’s time preventing him from focusing on the patient.  Dental assistants are trained to carry out these simple procedures like prepping the patient, taking X-rays, holding instruments during dental surgeries, mixing dental cements, taking impressions or dental measurements,  making provisional dental restorations etc.  This will reduce the treatment time and result in the dentist being able to see many more patients in a single day. A few states do allow dental assistants to carry out procedures on patients under the dentist’s supervision but most states do not allow it.

Qualities Required For the Job
Trained dental assistants have to be able to interact with patients, organize the tasks related to a patient. They should also be able to listen effectively to the patient or the dentist while ensuring that essential treatment tasks are being completed.

Job Outlook
At present, the US is facing a very severe shortage of dentists. The number of dentists is also projected to decrease from 2014 onwards. As a result, most dentists have an increased workload due to the rapidly increasing oral health problems in a swiftly aging population. Trained dental assistants are now in high demand to filter and sort dental patients to ensure that treatment can be done effectively and quickly. This means that jobs for dental assistants are expected to increase by 31% by the year 2020. Dentists will need dental assistants to help them complete routine tasks faster.

Education and Certification
Students who are interested in becoming dental assistants should start by taking biology, physics, anatomy, and chemistry classes in high school. After completing high school, the candidate may complete a graduate degree or enter a dental assistant course directly. Most dental training colleges also have dental assistant courses. Programs are usually six months to two years in length. After completing the course, the candidate will have to sit for a licensing exam held by the National Board. Colleges may offer diplomas, certificate courses and even associates degrees. You can choose any degree that is acceptable. Online courses are also available. Candidates are also supposed to complete a CPR course which will help in case of emergencies. After passing the exam, the candidate is provided with a Certified Dental Assistant degree from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Only candidates from accredited courses are allowed to sit for this exam. Ensure that your college is approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) by checking their online database.

The actual salary of a dental assistant will vary according to experience and degree. In some states, a degree is not required but having a degree will mean a higher salary. On an average, starting salaries for dental assistant will be about $14,707 – $35,479. This salary will increase as the assistant gains experience. Along with a basic salary, most dental assistants also get perks like overtime salary, bonuses, profit sharing, educational reimbursement and paid vacations. If the candidate specializes in a particular field like radiology, instrument control or oral surgery, they will automatically get paid a higher salary.
Being a dental assistant is a very satisfying profession. You can always continue your education and specialize in a field or become a dental therapist.

John Blake is the creator of, a site which provides dental assistant training advice and tips on choosing schools and courses.