What are the Different Dental Assistant Jobs?

K T Solis
K T Solis
A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.
A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.

Dental assistants are dental health care workers who assist the dentist with patients. There are different types of jobs that a dental assistant must be prepared to perform in an efficient manner. Dental assistants must possess good manual dexterity, have the ability to work closely with the dentist, and display good customer service skills. Dental assistant jobs involve making a patient comfortable during treatment, handing dentists tools, suctioning the patient's mouth, taking X-rays of the teeth, and other important tasks.

Dental assistants often work work dental x-rays.
Dental assistants often work work dental x-rays.

Dental assistant jobs are primarily divided into two major types. The first type is called a basic dental assistant. This type of job is a general assistant job requiring the completion of a dental assistant course. Such courses are short-term, requiring between nine and 11 months of coursework.

Upon completion of the program, graduates earn a certificate that qualifies them to work in basic dental assistant jobs. Students can earn this certificate if they enroll in a vocational or community college. Other students can earn their certificate through distance education if they desire a more flexible format.

Some dental assistants focus on pediatric dentistry.
Some dental assistants focus on pediatric dentistry.

Another type of dental assistant job is called an expanded duty dental assistant (EDDA). This type of dental assistant has a higher skill level in the field of dental assisting and requires further education. These jobs allow the dental assistant to perform restorative tasks while working under the supervision of a licensed dentist. An EDDA can perform more complex work like removing sutures, making impressions of the teeth, and placing temporary restorations. All advanced work performed by an EDDA must be supervised by the dentist.

Dental impressions may be taken by a dental assistant.
Dental impressions may be taken by a dental assistant.

Dental assistant jobs can be performed in a variety of settings. For example, the dental assistant can work with one dentist or a group of dentists in a dental practice. The dental assistant can work for a specialist who focuses on pediatrics, orthodontics, endodontics, or some other special area of dentistry.

Dental assistants can work in clinics, schools, nursing homes, or in public health. Some dental assistants choose to advance their careers by returning to school to become dental hygienists. Dental assistants who do not receive further education are unable to advance further in the field.

Dental hygienists are typically responsible for cleanings.
Dental hygienists are typically responsible for cleanings.

People who wish to become dental assistants can expect to enjoy a varied set of responsibilities within the dentist office. They may order supplies, assist the dentist as he or she performs dental procedures, and gather patients' medical information. Dental assistants may take dental X-rays or instruct patients on how to maintain the health of their teeth. No matter what tasks a dental assistant must perform, all dental assistants must possess a caring, competent manner. This allows patients to feel more comfortable and relaxed, contributing to a more positive experience at the dentist office.

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Discussion Comments

Spotiche5

A very rewarding position in the field of dental assisting is working in an oral surgeon's office. This type of position allows assistants to help out during dental surgery, and comfort patients as they recover. It is also a great job for dental assistants that prefer a more intense environment than what they may find in a general dentist's office.

Raynbow

Anyone who thinks he or she may like to work in a dental assistant job should consider exploring available options at a vocational college. These schools usually offer two-year programs that allow students to learn the dental assistant trade in a short period of time. This type of education also allows students to find jobs fairly quickly in the dental field.

Ocelot60

Dental assistants do a little bit of everything in a dental office. It is a great career for people who love helping others while also providing opportunities for them to interact with others and learn many dental skills. Anyone who loves teeth and enjoys working with patients should consider going into this growing field.

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    • A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.
      By: praisaeng
      A dental assistant must be familiar with a variety of dental equipment and tools.
    • Dental assistants often work work dental x-rays.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Dental assistants often work work dental x-rays.
    • Some dental assistants focus on pediatric dentistry.
      By: crossstudio
      Some dental assistants focus on pediatric dentistry.
    • Dental impressions may be taken by a dental assistant.
      By: milosljubicic
      Dental impressions may be taken by a dental assistant.
    • Dental hygienists are typically responsible for cleanings.
      By: Nejron Photo
      Dental hygienists are typically responsible for cleanings.
    • Dental assistants are typically trained in administering dental x-rays.
      By: Georgiy Pashin
      Dental assistants are typically trained in administering dental x-rays.