Military veterans are always looking to get into a profession that is in a growing career field, obviously. Dental assistants are projected to be some of the most in demand workers over the next ten years, which makes it a great career choice for veterans. Even better for veterans is the fact that becoming a dental assistant does not require years of schooling or an advanced degree.
Here’s the rundown on dental assistant jobs.
What They Do
Dental assistants perform many different tasks around a dental office, such as taking patient X-Rays, to recordkeeping and appointment scheduling. Dental assistants may also perform lab work, such as taking impressions of a patient’s teeth. Dental assistants work closely with dentists and dental hygienists on day-to-day tasks.
- Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
- Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
- Sterilize dental instruments
- Hand instruments to dentists during procedures
- Dry patients’ mouths using suction hoses and other equipment
- Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
- Process x rays and complete lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
- Keep records of dental treatments
- Schedule patient appointments
- Work with patients on billing and payment
In some states dental assistants can also perform the following procedures:
- Coronal polishing (removing plaque from teeth)
- Sealant application (thin plastic substance painted on teeth to prevent cavities)
- Fluoride application (applying fluoride to teeth)
- Topical anesthetic application (temporary numbing agent application)
States have their own rules for who can perform certain tasks within a dental practice.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
The path to becoming a dental assistant depends on which state you live in. Some states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program in order to work, while other states allow dental assistants to do their training on the job. If your state requires you to graduate from an accredited program, the program will typically last one year, at the end of which you will need to pass an exam.
Accredited programs include classroom and laboratory work. Students learn about teeth, gums, jaws, and other areas dentists work on and the instruments that dentists use. These programs also include supervised practical experience.
Outlook for Dental Assistant Jobs
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for dental assistants, as of May 2017, was $37,630. Employment of dental assistants is expected to grow 19% by the year 2026. which is much faster than the average occupation is expected to grow over the same time period.
There will be a significant need for dental assistants as dental practices continue to expand in the coming years.