Career opportunities in dentistry are growing as researchers learn more about the importance of oral health, but becoming a dentist may take eight long years in college, something not everyone can afford. The good news is, for students who are interested in dentistry but don’t want to spend years in dental school, there are eight good reasons to attend a vocational school dental assisting program.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Dental assistants are flexible support professionals who manage a wide range of clinical and administrative duties in a dental practice. They work side by side with dentists and hygienists to give patients the best oral care possible.
Their responsibilities may include:
- Greeting patients
- Obtaining service pre-authorizations
- Maintaining dental records
- Assisting with x-rays
- Performing fluoride treatments and coronal polishing
- Helping in the lab
- Sterilizing equipment
- Ordering supplies
- Educating patients about dental health
- Assisting the dentist at chairside
Why Attend a Dental Assisting Program?
A job pays the bills, but a career should mean more. Dental assistants enjoy a quick start, a vibrant job market, a fulfilling work/life balance, making a difference, working with technology, never being bored, collaborating with dedicated colleagues, and opportunities for professional growth.
Reason #1: A Quick Start
Dental assisting students, by attending a vocational school program full-time, can be out of school and start earning money in as little as nine months. Career advisors assist students with job placement after graduation. Many institutions work with dental practices in the community to help meet their staffing needs. The training is an excellent value.
Reason #2: A Vibrant Job Market
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for dental assistants is anticipated to grow by 11 percent through 2028, much faster than the 5-percent average growth rate for all occupations combined.
At a time when jobs are being lost to technology, Dental Assisting can be a secure career with plenty of opportunities. The skills learned in a dental assistant program may last a lifetime.
Reason #3: A Fulfilling Work/Life Balance
Almost everyone believes work/life balance is a problem in the U.S. Being at the office instead of at home in the evening, on weekends and holidays takes a toll on an employee’s personal and family life. Work/life balance is a leading cause of professional burnout.
But most dentists have regular Monday through Friday office hours. Emergencies and unexpected overtime are rare, so dental assistants can depend on a consistent schedule to plan their lives around. It’s a viable career for working parents struggling with childcare or adult children caring for aging seniors.
Reason #4: Making a Difference
Medical researchers know a secret that most of the public doesn’t; regular oral care is critical to good health. Studies show that excessive bacteria in the mouth contribute to body-wide inflammation, and gingivitis has been linked to a broad range of chronic conditions from diabetes and heart disease to Alzheimer’s and autoimmune disorders.
Yet while the majority of adults see a doctor annually, only half see a dentist as often. Why? Americans say they avoid the dentist because of anxiety, most of which is due to misinformation or bad experiences from a time when dentistry was less advanced.
Dental assistants not only play an important practical role in an oral care practice, but as ambassadors for the profession, they also help educate patients of all ages about the benefits of dentistry. Few occupations that require only nine months of training are this impactful. Dental assistants make a difference.
Reason #5: Working with Technology
Dental assisting is a technology-driven field. Students learn on the latest equipment, and graduates are among the first to try cutting-edge advancements. As in medicine, dental technology evolves almost daily. In the last two decades, oral care professionals have gone from extracting bad teeth to restoring them, and edentulous patients are no longer limited to dentures. Instead, they can have implants that look, feel and function like natural teeth. It’s an inspiring time to work in the dental field.
Reason #6: Never Being Bored
A dental practice is a busy place, the pace is brisk. Dental assistants are cross-trained for both administrative and clinical duties so the work may not be dull. One minute, they’re troubleshooting a patient’s concerns over the telephone, and the next, they’re helping the dentist with a filling.
People who like a regular schedule, but a variable routine will appreciate dental assisting, it’s exciting. The day is somewhat predictable, but there are enough unique challenges to keep things interesting, and there’s always something new to learn. As a field, dentistry never gets stale.
Reason #7: Collaborating with Dedicated Colleagues
A dental assistant never feels alone on the job. They’re part of a caring, dedicated team of professionals with a unified mission, to give patients the best care possible. Individuals retain a sense of ownership over their work, and they can feel pride in their accomplishments, but everyone works together. Learning is mutual, and team members feel valued for the different perspectives they bring to the table. The environment is supportive.
Workplace surveys suggest that a sense of teamwork inspires creativity among staff and improves overall job satisfaction. It’s one more aspect of being a dental assistant that makes it less of a job and more of a career.
Reason #8: Opportunities for Professional Growth
Dental assisting is a centuries-old occupation dating as far back as 1885, but it has come a long way. Today, the American Dental Assistants Organization, a group committed to furthering the occupation through continuing education helps advance the professional status and public perception of dental assistants. Graduating from a dental assistant program is no longer just the beginning.
Being a dental assistant can be a rewarding lifelong career or a stepping-stone to a position with greater responsibility. With a few years on the job, dental assistants can become supervisors or managers. Or they can choose to further their education to become dental hygienists. The sky is the limit.
Going to school is a big step, so for students who want to take charge of their future, it’s essential to ask the right questions before applying. Is the job market sound? Is there an opportunity to grow professionally? Will the skills I learn now still be relevant in another decade? With so many promising career options to choose from, why should students choose to attend a dental assisting program? Because the answer to all those questions is a resounding yes.
Want to start a career that is in demand? Deciding whether you want to become a dental assistant? The Dental Assistant Program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Dental Assistant, Dental Receptionist, Office Manager or Dental Hygienist Assistant in a dental office, specialty practice, or dental clinic. PCI Health Training Center Richardson, TX Campus offers a dental assistant program. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a dental assistant and start a rewarding career today.
**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.
For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.