Simply put, A dental assistant is a person who assists a dentist.
Dental Assistant Job Description
A dental assistant is required to perform variety of tasks right from collecting the patient’s record and maintaining them, fix appointments, manage payments and maintain account details as well as stock maintenance etc. Once a patient arrives, it is the duty of the dental assistant to prepare the patient for the treatment by making the patient comfortable. When the treatment is going on, the dental assistant does the assisting job of supplying the needed tools to the dentist as required. The dental assistant also does the suction job to keep the patient’s mouth dry to enable the doctor to continue with the patient’s treatment.
Additional tasks include the sterilization of the equipments used. In case of x-rays to be taken, it is the dental assistant who does the job. Their tasks even includes cleaning and filling the teeth. They also mix needed compounds as required by the dentist. The job also requires duties in the laboratory in making crowns, tooth casts as well as removing sutures etc.
The dental assistants usually work in clinics, hospitals, dental schools and private offices. They are responsible for making the patient aware of oral health care.
Dental Assistant Training and Certification
With an ever increasing demand, it is becoming essential for a student to undergo a formal training and obtain certification to become a dental assistant. The Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA) recognizes over 280 programs, which are one-year long programs. There are short time programs ranging from 4 to 6 months. Though these programs offer good training on sharpening the skills, these are not accredited. There are however, 2-year courses, which offer an associate degree. So, depending on the state, after completion of this accredited dental courses, one is supposed to take the exam conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and acquire the Certified Dental Assistant certification (CDA).
Some employers though are just satisfied with a high school degree and they give on the job training in all the tasks and skills involved in a dental assistant job such as dental terminology, instrument operation and maintenance, patient care, etc.
Dental Assistant Salary and Job Prospects
The salary range of a dental assistant is between $32,000 and $40,000 a year depending upon the certification and experience. It also includes additional perks like health insurance and paid vacations. One has to check the programs available and choose the most suitable course to become a dental assistant to get the maximum benefit out of the career.
Job opportunities are increasing day by day for dental assistants. According to the BLS, a 36% growth in this field should happen by the year 2018. All in all a good time to think about becoming a dental assistant.
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