What Does a Dental Assistant Do

The field of dentistry has blown wide open in the past decades. Not only has the arena of cosmetic dentistry added new patients to the patient rosters, the medical field now recognizes that a dental health is an integral part of holistic health and government assisted insurance programs are helping to make it more affordable for everyone to observe their annual dental checkups.

As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics sites that the projected employment growth for dental assistants is 25 percent through 2022, which is significantly higher than average.

Role of a Dental Assistant

The large majority of dental assistants work in dental offices, providing assistance to both the dentist and the dental hygienist in their day-to-day responsibilities. In many ways, the trained dental assistant serves as both ambassador and assistant, acting as the liaison between the dental professionals and their patients.

Some of the duties of a dental assistant include:

• Working with patients to make them feel comfortable as they get seated in the dental chair.
• Explaining what patients can expect to experience during their visit.
• Preparing the work area for the dentist and hygienist, organizing tools and instruments on the tray.
• Taking dental X-rays.
• Processing X-rays and facilitate lab tasks under the supervision of the dentist.
• Handing off instruments to the dentist, as they are needed.
• Teaching patients about proper dental hygiene, including how to properly brush and floss their teeth.
• Utilizing the suctioning device to keep the patients mouth dry as it is being worked on.
• Maintaining records taken at the dental visit and reviewing previous records.
• Working with patients on billing and payment.
• Scheduling appointments and provide reminders for upcoming visits.

Dental assistants who have lab responsibilities will typically assist with making casts of patients teeth for various dental treatments and aids. They may also be called upon to:

• Polish the patients’ teeth.
• Apply dental sealants.
• Apply fluoride treatments.
• Apply topical anesthetics.

The ability to perform the above four tasks is dependent on the state in which you live and the dentist’s needs.

Qualities that Benefit Dental Assistants

Successful dental assistants have several positive qualities or attributes that make them good and their job and well-liked by patients, dentists and co-workers. Some of these qualities include:

Interpersonal skills. Of course, interpersonal skills are valued in almost any job position, but they are a necessary trait for dental assistants. The patients you work with are often nervous, scared or have some level of anxiety about their dental visit so the more caring, understanding and compassionate you are, the better.

Detail oriented. You will be responsible for maintaining important records, working with patients and insurance providers. You may be called upon to administer a very specific product or treatment and are responsible for keeping track of patient dental X-rays and other lab results. These duties all require professionals with a strong attention to detail and organization.

Good listening skills. Finally, you will be listening carefully to patient complaints, symptoms and concerns as well as needing to pay close attention to the directives issued by the dentist and/or hygienist, so being a good listener is a must.

Start an Exciting Career as a Dental Assistant

As mentioned above, trained dental assistants are in high demand, which makes this a lucrative career for those who are interested in becoming a dental assistant full-time, or who are considering becoming a dental hygienist or dentist down the road. It is also a wonderful career for parents as you can work part-time and often have a certain amount of scheduling flexibility so you can work around your children’s schedule. Many offices now have evening and weekend shifts available.

Look for accredited dental assistant training programs in your area to make sure you are given the education and experience required to help you land a position at a successful dental practice.

Contact PCI to learn more about a qualified dental assistant training program near you.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information. Dental Assistant program offered at our Richardson Campus.

5 Job Ideas for Dental Assistants Beyond the Dental Office

Did you know that dental assistants play a critical role in a dental office? Part of the job of a dental assistant is regularly aiding the dentist, ensuring that patient care is completed as efficiently and effectively as possible. Dental assistants often work in traditional office settings. However, dental assistants who are feeling adventurous can consider a career beyond the typical dental office. There are several creative possibilities for jobs beyond the dental office that dental assistants can consider including working as a dental office manager, teaching dental assisting, selling dental products, dental assisting in the military, and a dental insurance claims processor.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

A dental assistant works with the dentist to offer proper dental care and educate patients on good oral hygiene, according to the American Dental Association. They will assist the dentist during treatments, exams and procedures. The dental assistant takes vital signs and records the patient’s medical history. They will also take impressions of the patient’s teeth for casts and models. The dental assistant will assist the dentist whenever they are caring for a patient to make sure the patient is comfortable and properly informed during any procedure.

Job #1: Dental Office Management

Dental office managers have administrative roles and oversee the functioning of a dental office. They answer phones, greet customers, order supplies, manage bookkeeping, take inventory and cover for other dental office staff. As a dental office manager, you’ll work with front desk staff, hygienists, dentists, and staff to ensure that the dental office is functioning smoothly, and that patients are receiving the best care possible.

Job #2: Teaching Dental Assisting

Some dental assistants may become teachers in different teaching capacities. Dental assistants who decide they want to teach can get a simple certification that allows them to provide education to others who are hoping to pursue a similar job path.

Dental Assistants can also work in schools to educate students on proper oral hygiene. Habits are learned at a young age and helping youth with preventive dentistry will set them on the path to healthy teeth and gums.

Job #3: Selling Dental Products

Dental product manufacturers and distributors employ people with a distinct knowledge of dentistry to sell their dental products. Dental assistants are often qualified to hold these jobs because they have an in-depth knowledge of oral health, teeth, and how the dentist office works. Dental assistants can consider getting into sales if they want to use their knowledge and continue to improve dental offices, while not having to work chairside assisting a dentist.

Job #4: Military Dental Assistant

Dental assistants may want to travel or be in more exciting job environments than a typical dental office. For those dental assistants, there are careers in the military. Military dental assistants work for military dentists, who provide dentistry to people in the U.S. armed forces. The main job functions include education of troops in preventative dentistry, radiology techniques, and dental office procedures. The dental assistant may be stationed in military dental clinics or deployed where soldiers are located. Some military dental assistants may even serve aboard a ship. The military dental assistant will help the troops with oral hygiene and serve their country at the same time.

Job #5: Dental Insurance Claims Processing

If you have trained to be a dental assistant, you are qualified to work in the dental insurance industry. Working in dental insurance allows you to process dental insurance claims, verifying the treatments that were given to patients and deciding whether those treatments qualify for coverage. Working in dental insurance is a good way to use your dental knowledge in a more business focused position. After gaining some experience, you may qualify to work from home as a dental insurance claims processor.

Final Thoughts

Being a dental assistant is a fulfilling job where you get to provide oral health care for those in need. While many dental assistants choose to work in a regular dentist’s office setting, some may be looking for more unique career opportunities or interesting work environments. Those dental assistants, upon gaining experience in the field, can consider working as a dental office manager, teacher of dental assisting, selling dental products, becoming a military dental assistant or become a dental insurance claims processor.

You can graduate from a vocational school’s dental assisting program in as little as 9 months and start your new career in the dental industry. Many dental assisting programs offer in lab training and off-site externships to prepare graduates for real world situations Whether at a traditional dental office, in the military or working in a related field, dental assistants have the opportunity to help people live healthier lives.

Still deciding whether you want a job as a dental assistant? Ready to learn more about a program that will help you 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 the 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, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-informationDental Assistant program offered at our Richardson Campus.