What is a Dental Assistant?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 09 September 2017
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A dental assistant is generally an entry-level employee who works closely with a professional dentist. A dental assistant's duties may include organizing appointments, sterilizing and arranging instruments, escorting patients, taking X-Rays and performing routine clerical work. Many high school vocational programs offer training to become a dental assistant, although formal education is not always a requirement. Some dentists will train a dental assistant on the job.

The responsibilities of a dental assistant can vary from office to office. Many states require additional certification and training before a dental assistant can operate an x-ray machine, for example. In general, a dental assistant is not authorized to perform any surgical procedures on a patient. In most cases, an effective dental assistant acts as an extra pair of hands for the dentist during a procedure, suctioning excess saliva or providing instruments perhaps. Cleanings are often handled by trained dental hygienists, who often attend college-level vocational courses.

A dental assistant may also spend time comforting patients, especially young children. This may require exceptional human relationship skills and the ability to work under stressful conditions. A successful dental assistant must also be very professional when scheduling appointments and resolving patients' concerns and questions.

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The starting pay for a dental assistant is generally low for a job in the medical field. An entry-level dental assistant without x-ray certification may only earn $8 to $12 an hour, based on the size and location of the dentistry center. Advancement for a dental assistant may be limited to office manager or a position of seniority among co-workers. For any significant chance of career advancement, a dental assistant may consider training as a dental hygienist or entering dental school.

Like many other entry to mid-level jobs in the medical field, the position of dental assistant is in great demand. Turnover rates can be high, as workers seek out more responsible positions elsewhere. Becoming a dental assistant straight out of a high school vocational program is a distinct possibility. Some private educational institutions and community colleges also offer training for the dental assisting field.

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GreenWeaver
Post 2

Moldova- The dental assistant work involves sterilizing dental equipment, preparing patients to see the dentist, keeping track of all patient files, and offering the patient an orientation on how to care for their teeth at the end of the visit.

A certified dental assistant also take X-rays and prepare them for the dentist. A registered dental assistant salary ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 a year or more.

They are usually paid an hourly wage and their salary is dependent upon the size of the office they support and the years of experience they have.

Many seek additional education and go on to become dental hygienist. As a dental hygienist, they remove tarter from the patient’s teeth and

virtually perform all of the cleaning functions pertaining to the patient’s teeth.

Dental hygienist can earn up to $75,000 a year for those with significant experience and certification in the field. This is a job that is in demand and will continue to grow over the years.

Moldova
Post 1

Most vocational trade schools offer a dental assistant certification. These dental assistant schools offer training in less than one year and usually provide job placement assistance.

The dental assistant degree requires coursework in computers and courses regarding patient care and tooth enamel.

A dental assistant career is very much in demand with the hiring trend to increase 40% within the next ten years.

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