Dental Assistant Job Description

Salary: $27,400 – $39,900 Number of Jobs: 295,310
Hourly Rate: $13.18 – $19.19 Employment Outlook: Good
Green Job: No Education: Moderate-term on-the-job training

What do Dental Assistants do?

Dental assistants work in dentist offices, where they assist dentists in many different ways. Some states regulate the responsibilities of dental assistants more than others, but there are many tasks that all dental assistants have in common.

In many offices, dental assistants are responsible for maintaining patient records and schedule appointments. In the laboratory, they often make casts of patients’ teeth, create temporary crowns, or process x-rays.

Most dental assistants also help dentists by setting up their equipment, sterilizing instruments, and using a suction host to keep patients’ mouths dry while the dentist or dental hygienist works on them.

Depending on the office they work in, dental assistants may also complete insurance forms, monitor the inventory of supplies, or present customers with their bills.

Work Environment and Schedule

Dentist offices are clean, sterile, and well lit. However, the equipment they work with (such as x-ray machines) can still pose some risks, and dental assistants must take many necessary precautions to keep themselves healthy and safe.

Since some patients may have infectious diseases, dental assistants normally wear surgical masks, gloves, and safety glasses while assisting with patient care.

Required hours for dental assistants vary depending on the office they’re working in, but many offices maintain normal business hours between Monday and Friday.

The majority of dental assistants work full time, but there are also plenty of part time positions available.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

The requirements for becoming a dental assistant vary from state to state. Some states do not require any formal training, while others require you to earn a specialized degree from an accredited school and pass an exam.

Additionally, some states require that all dental assistants become a Certified Dental Assistant by passing an exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board.

For a list of accredited schools, see the American Dental Association’s website.

In states where formal education is not required, on the job training is provided.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 295,310 dental assistants in the United States, with 16,100 new dental assistant job openings created each year.

Dental Assistant jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Dental Assistant Salaries

Overall Salaries

Dental Assistant salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most dental assistants make between $27,400 – $39,900 per year, or $13.18 – $19.19 per hour.

Updated: 05/04/2017

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