How to Become an Expanded Functions Dental Assistant

What does it mean to be an expanded functions dental assistant? In short, it allows you to do more types of work. Many DAs go on to pursue expanded functions because it allows them to do more tasks and duties around the office. Look at it as advancing in your career, you will be able to do new types of work and make more. But how exactly do you become an expanded functions dental assistant? Although the tasks and job title can differ from state to state, most of the time the process will be quite similar. Continue Reading

How to Become a Dental Assistant Infographic

So you’re probably wondering what dental assisting is all about and what do you have to do to become one. Well, requirements for entry are pretty much minimal and this quick infographic will help shed light on whatever it is you want to know, including vital information such as employment statistics, job description, requirements, job info, and more. If you still have any questions, you can always refer to our dental assistant FAQ or visit our homepage. Continue Reading

The Definitive Dental Assistant FAQ

The Definitive Dental Assistant FAQ

This is THE definitive dental assistant FAQ that is meant to help address the most frequently asked questions people have. If you are interested in dental assisting and want your questions answered as concisely as possible, you might want to browse this resource.

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What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

You are probably wondering what does a dental assistant do exactly (if you’d like to find out what CNA’s do, check out this article). Well a dental assistant has a number of roles to provide to the office, the most important is to increase the efficiency of the entire dental procedure. This means a dental assistant must work closely alongside the dentist and help in whatever he/she needs. The typical responsibilities of a dental assistant will generally fall within the categories of clinical tasks and office management, typically requiring a balance of both. Clinical tasks can include anything ranging from sterilizing and preparing equipment to taking x-rays. On the other hand administrative tasks can include scheduling appointments and keeping records. Continue reading to learn what does a dental assistant do.
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Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

Dental Assistant vs Dental Hygienist

What is the difference between a dental assistant vs dental hygienist? Many people wonder this when strolling through a dental office. It can be hard to tell the difference between the two when their outfits are so similar but indeed there are some notable distinctions. For the most part a dental hygienist is a higher position in the office than a dental assistant due to more schooling. Dental hygienists usually require an associate’s degree and a license while most dental assistants only need a certificate or in some cases no formal training at all.

On one hand dental assistants are more focused around making the dental procedure more efficient by supporting the dentist. To do this a typical day can include preparing and sterilizing equipment, preparing patients for treatments, assisting during procedures, record keeping, scheduling appointments, office management, taking x-rays, and providing instructions to patients. An assistant’s job is a balance of clinical and administrative work.

On the other hand a hygienist usually works to clean, maintain, and examine teeth and gums. They spend more time in the dental room doing clinical tasks rather than administrative work. Taking x-rays, removing plaque, looking for gum disease, applying sealants, and administering fluoride to teeth are common responsibilities. A hygienist spends more time dealing with teeth.

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Dental assistants:

  • Work with patients before, during, and after procedures
  • Help the dentist any way they can during the dental treatment
  • Take and develop x-rays
  • Office management
  • Greet and comfort patients
  • Seat patients and schedule appointments
  • Sterilize and prepare tools
  • Handle billing and order supplies
  • Take impressions of teeth
  • Teach patients good hygiene and instructions

Dental hygienists:

  • Collect patient’s medical history
  • Clean teeth, such as removing tartar, plaque, and more from patient’s teeth
  • Make molds of patient’s teeth
  • Record dental conditions
  • Apply fluoride and sealants
  • Administer anesthetics
  • Remove sutures and dressings
  • Teach patients good hygiene and instructions

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Those are the most notable differences between a dental assistant vs dental hygienist. More people tend to opt for dental assisting as it requires minimal education. On the other hand dental hygiene school can be quite time consuming and expensive but can result in a higher salary. But what is great about dental assisting is that one can take a peek at how the office works. They can then decide later on whether dental assisting is right for them or whether advancement is a better option.

Dental Assistant Job Description

What duties are you going to expect as a dental assistant? Dental assistants are crucial to the office for they help increase the efficiency of the entire dental procedure. With that said there are numerous roles a dental assistant must fill in order to accomplish that. Dental assistant duties can vary by state but there are a handful of common tasks that most dental assistants perform. Most of them relate either to clinical or office tasks. Today we will take a look at the dental assistant job description.

Dental Assistant Job Description

A dental assistant has multiple tasks and skills to provide that can span anywhere from clinical to administrative tasks. Clinical tasks are often closely related to interpersonal interaction with patients and co-workers while administrative work requires more technical skill with computers and office management. There will often be a balance of both involved in daily routines, and most of the work will revolve around what the dentist needs help with the most. Part of the dental assistant job description is to help make the office run more smoothly, and if all staff performs their respective duties then the office will be able to do that. Most offices have less than 100 employees so a dental assistant’s job is very important. Dental assistant duties revolve around helping the dentist provide a fast and effective treatment to patients, so dental assistants need to help with the details in order for the dentist to focus on the procedure. Some states require standards being met before allowing expanded functions, such as taking X-rays or working in the laboratory, so it really boils down to your state’s dental laws that dictates what you can do.

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Common dental assistant duties that are part of the dental assistant job description include:

Clinical TasksAdministrative Tasks
  • Passing equipment to dentist and assisting during procedures
  • Seating patients in treatment rooms
  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments
  • Polishing crowns
  • X-rays and impressions
  • Providing instructions and educating patients
  • Taking blood pressure and pulse
  • Greeting, comforting, and introducing patients
  • Schedule appointments
  • Record keeping
  • Telephone management
  • Billing and ordering supplies
  • Managing patient records

To do the job well you will need to know how to:

  • Work efficiently with dental staff
  • Communicate effectively with patients and dental staff
  • Disinfect dental tools properly
  • Work with patients to provide a good experience
  • Explain dental hygiene and proper care of teeth
  • Stay focused during the dental procedure
  • Maintain attention to detail/listen to the dentist
  • Stay organized/manage the office

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dental assistant job description

Why You Should Become a Dental Assistant

Why You Should Become a Dental Assistant

Becoming a dental assistant can be a rewarding career with the opportunity to work with great people. The role of a dental assistant is to help the dentist in any way possible to speed up the dental process as efficiently as possible. A dental assistant is the supporting arms of the dentist and has a number of functions around the office, depending on which state you work in. It usually includes interaction with patients and assisting the dentist in the oral procedure.

The reason why you should become a dental assistant is because the demand for them is steadily rising. The occupation is one of the fastest growing jobs right now, with a job outlook for 2010-20 at an increase of 31% which is much faster than the average of most other occupations. In 2010 there was an average of 300,000 dental assistants in the United States and is expected to increase by another 100,000 by 2020. This means there are lots of job opportunities out there for those who are interested and jobs are available almost anywhere you live. Dental assistants also have little formal education which means it is easier to find a job. This depends on state requirements however.

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If you are interested in dentistry then this could be a great opportunity for you. With an average median salary of $33,470 annually and a flexible schedule dental assisting can be a great career. Becoming certified can make you more money and gives your employer more trust. Pay varies by region but if you are interested in furthering your career in dentistry by pursuing dental hygienist or dentist then dental assisting will be great experience to get a first hand glimpse at what those jobs entail.

What is also great about dental assisting is that you can work around your schedule. Part time and full time work is offered with normal hours of operations. You don’t have to work holidays or weekends which is very important if you have a family or go to school. Generally you will have paid holidays off and most dental assistants can receive a large discount on dental care.

If you love working with people in a positive environment, if you have great communication skills, if you want a fun and rewarding career then dental assisting might just be for you. Learn more about how to become one in your state or take our dental assistant quiz.

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Is Dental Assisting Right For Me?

Is Dental Assisting Right For Me?

You might be wondering ‘Is dental assisting right for me’? Becoming a dental assistant is great if you have the interest and passion. You have to have some quality traits to become a dental assistant and you need to know what the job offers. Being a dental assistant offers a lot of flexibility and variety in what you do. Let’s take a look at what it entails.

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There are many factors of why dental assisting can be the right choice for you. They include:

  • Variety: There is much to love about the job. You will have a number of roles to play and it demands responsibility and good work ethic, making it a rewarding career choice. Your main role is to assist the dentist in making the dental procedure as efficient as possible so there are many functions you can take on.
  • Flexibility: No weekends, no nights, and you can choose to work full-time or part-time depending on your employer which provides for lots of flexibility to work around your schedule.
  • Growth opportunities: Being a dental assistant can be a prerequisite to becoming a dental hygienist or a dentist. It’s a great way to get a look at what it’s like in a dental office and gain valuable experience.
  • Working conditions: Great staff and patients to work with are a positive about being a dental assistant. You will constantly be in an interesting and people-oriented work environment.
  • Job satisfaction: You are taking an active role in helping patients have a better smile. You will interact with patients and it’s a great feeling knowing you’ve helped someone out. And of course a good salary will bring smiles to you as well.
  • Strong job market: Dental assistants are a stable job market and it is an occupation that is growing faster than the average rate of other jobs. There are many openings available and expected to increase even more.
  • Minimal requirements: What’s awesome is that you don’t have to have years of formal education to become a dental assistant; training and education will vary but most states don’t require any. Check out the dental assistant requirements here for individual states.

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Skills You Will Need:

  • Efficiency
  • Good communication skills
  • Attention to detail and ability to focus
  • Good people skills
  • Ability to explain instructions to patients
  • Organizational and office management skills

One drawback of dental assisting is that there are not many advancement opportunities. Besides becoming a registered(RDA) or certified(CDA) dental assistant, there isn’t much more you can do to further your career. Many dental assistants choose later on to pursue other advanced professions in dentistry, namely becoming a dental hygienist or dentist. So hopefully we answered your question of: is dental assisting right for me? If you fit into what the job demands, it will be a highly satisfying and rewarding career.

What to Expect as a Dental Assistant

What to Expect as a Dental Assistant

Do you know what to expect as a dental assistant? If you’re looking to become a dental assistant but don’t know what goes on in the office here is a general idea. Usually dental assistants are focused on preparing the patient, equipment, and instruments for the dental procedure as well as assisting the dentist. Your job is to increase the efficiency of the dentist in delivering the oral healthcare to the patient. Your duties will vary by state regulations but it will usually be centered around preparation and supporting the dentist. Dental assistants are closely tied to dental hygienists but there is a big difference between them.

On a normal day you can expect to prepare patients for dental treatment by retrieving dental records, taking and exposing x-rays, and making the patients feel as comfortable as possible before, during, and after the procedure. You will have to sterilize and disinfect equipment and prepare them on trays for the dentist for easy access.

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You will also assist the dentist in the procedure by handing them the tools/equipment they need or by getting supplies. The patients’ mouth needs to be dry so you will have to use a suction and when needed you will have to rinse. You might also sometimes remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics, or remove excess cement from the filling process. In some states you might have specialized tasks such as cleaning teeth, applying sealant, or applying fluoride. Afterwards you can expect to provide patients with instructions on how to take care of their teeth after surgery/treatment or teach them proper oral hygiene strategies. You would then schedule a follow-up appointment.

If you have laboratory duties you can expect to make temporary crowns, clean and polish removable appliances, and make cast of the teeth and mouth from impressions.

If you have office duties you can expect to schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills and receive payments, and order supplies and materials.

What to expect as a dental assistant when it comes to skills. You will need to:

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  • Work efficiently with dental staff
  • Communicate effectively with patients and dental staff
  • Disinfect dental tools properly
  • Work with patients to provide a good experience
  • Explain dental hygiene and proper care of teeth
  • Stay focused during the dental procedure
  • Attention to detail/listen to the dentist
  • Stay organized/manage the office