Demand for Dental Assistants

One of the Fastest Growing Occupations

Dental nurse showing boy how to clean teeth properly

Dental assistant is currently one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. There are several reasons for this. As the population ages, people want to do everything possible to care for and retain their natural teeth. There is also a greater focus on preventative dental care for younger people. Everyone is becoming more aware of the connection between oral health and overall health. Also, as more and more people have access to dental insurance coverage, there is a greater demand for the services of dental professionals, including dental assistants. Because of the heavier workload, assistants are performing routine tasks so that the dentist can focus on more advanced dental work. As the population changes, so does the practice of dentistry. Older dentists retire and new dentists, who are generally more likely to use assistants, take their place, so the demand for dental assistants continues to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for dental assistants is expected to increase 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, a substantial increase.


What a Dental Assistant Does

If you are considering a career as a dental assistant, you must first understand what a dental assistant does. Dental assistants are not the same as dental hygienists, who are trained and licensed to perform certain clinical duties. The job description of a dental assistant varies and requires both excellent technical and interpersonal skills. Depending on state regulations and the requirements of the particular office, the duties may include assisting the dentist during procedures, taking and developing dental x-rays, taking models of patient’s teeth, and caring for patients undergoing dental work in many specialties, including pediatric dentistry and oral surgery. The assistant may also provide intake duties such as taking the patient’s medical history, blood pressure and pulse, maintaining infection control protocols and sterilizing equipment, giving patients post treatment care instructions, educating patients about oral hygiene, and generally making patients feel as comfortable as possible during their visit. The assistant may also need to perform various office administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments or ordering supplies.

Dental Assisting is a Rewarding Career

For those who like to help others, working as dental assistant is stimulating and rewarding. It offers opportunities to make the dental office more efficient. As dental care becomes more advanced, the assistant learns new technical skills. The job requires excellent communications skills, a great deal of interaction with both the staff and the patients and the ability to multitask.

Personal Qualities that make a Great Dental Assistant

There are many important personal qualities that make a great dental assistant. He or she should be a good listener for those who want to talk, but also recognize and respect the needs of patients who just want to “zone out” or listen to music during dental work. The dental assistant is essential to the smooth operation of a dental office. Therefore she must be well-organized, dedicated and reliable. Above all, if you are a people person, this is the perfect career for you. Many patients fear going to the dentist. For them, the dental assistant is a compassionate, warmly reassuring presence, helping the patient to relax during the visit.

The path to becoming a dental assistant varies, depending on the state. Training to become a dental assistant is sometimes done on the job, or you may wish to enter a formal dental assisting program, available through many excellent schools. When considering a training program, you may wish to consider a program that offers radiology training, especially if that is a requirement in your state. You will want a school that has state of the art equipment available for students and classes that are taught by experienced dental professionals. Training programs can be completed in as little as one year.

Posted on: January 20, 2017