A career as a dental assistant will offer you insight and first hand experience in the areas of dentistry. Dental assistants work very closely with both dentists and hygienists to offer quality care to all patients. The duties you will perform will vary depending on the dental office you work for. It will also depend on if the dentist office is general dentistry or a specialized area of care.
Dental assistants need to be detail oriented as well as patient and alert. They may have to sit for hours while a procedure is being completed or jump into the situation in an instant if an emergency occurs while the procedure is being conducted.
Typical tasks dental assistants need to perform include sterilizing instruments and preparing instrument trays for procedures. They also work closely with patients, taking dental and health histories. Depending on the procedures, vital signs of patients may be monitored. They also help document patient records, take x-rays, and give patients information on follow up care. In some offices they also make impressions of teeth to assist with making casts for caps, crowns, and dentures.
Dental assistants often work right along side the dentist and hygienist. Starting with making patients feel comfortable and prepping them for procedures. Assistants hand the dentist and hygienist instruments and materials, allowing them to remain focused on the patient throughout the procedure. It is also apart of the job description to make sure the work station has all the necessary equipment and tools to complete each procedure to prevent delays and feelings of anxiety in patients.
In a crunch, dental assistants may be asked to assist with office duties including answering the phone, reminding patients of appointments, scheduling appointments, answering billing questions, and submitting insurance claims. It really depends on how your employer has the dental office operating.
Dental assistants generally work with dentists and hygienists in a clean, friendly environment that is well lit. Since the work chair side to the dentist and hygienist, such people will learn many avenues of proper dental procedures. Many just might be able to do them as well as any dentist or hygienist, however, they are not allowed to because they are not certified.
Knowing this, many dental assistants choose to further their education in the medical field. They may decide to pursue being a dental hygienist or a dentist. This will allow them to perform many of the procedures they have seen performed over and over again, watching this process with make their educational endeavour much easier as they will already have seen so many aspects of the dental field in action.
Another reason dental assistants choose to further their career is the difference in pay. Generally, dental hygienists earn up to 80% more. Over time, that amount of money definitely adds up to quite a large difference. Dentists of course make much more money than both these occupations combined.
A career as a dental assistant allows you the unique and rewarding opportunity to participate in the dental field on many levels. You will not only have many responsibilities, you will first hand be up close to assist dental hygienists and dentists perform the many different procedures that take place in a dental setting. This ongoing training is the perfect learning tool to enable you to further your education with a solid foundation in the dental field to build on.