Dental Assistant Career and Job DescriptionChesapeake, VA
Dental assisting is more than just a job - it is a career that holds the advantage of changing people’s lives. Dental assistants are much needed in the field of dentistry and often help set the comfort and safe place for their patients. Assistants help a dental office run smoothly and allow other practitioners to do their jobs with more ease. Although rewarding, dental assisting is not for everyone. It is important to know what the career entails and the job description that ensues after acquiring a position.
At Dental Assistant Teaching Academy, our program helps students understand what their day-to-day work life would look like. Our students work with real dentists in a real dental office to give them an accurate depiction of a career as a dental assistant. To learn more about our program or schedule an appointment, call 757-204-2114 today.
Qualities of a Dental Assistant
Patients often look to the dental assistant for comfort and ease during their treatments and oral procedures. The patients may signal or communicate with the assistant for more water or suction during a cleaning. In other cases, the patient may notify the assistant when they feel pain or discomfort, hoping the assistant is quick and responsive. The dentist also relies on the assistant to perform many tasks and may have desired qualities that attribute to their work ethic.
We believe there are certain qualities that cannot be taught but rather a part of a dental assistant’s character. Dental assistants across the country believe that success in the field requires ten important qualities: good listener, compassionate, personable, perseverance, strong work ethic, dedication, reliability, organization, anticipation, and multitasking. All of these qualities help the patient, dentist, and the practice itself. Although many of these qualities are inherent, dental assistants can also acquire or develop these through experience and working in the field with real patients.
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Dental assisting is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after careers in healthcare support occupations. According to the Virginia Health Workforce Development Authority (VHWDA), the average annual salary for dental assistants in Virginia is $40,690, averaging $20.87 an hour. The average hourly rate increases every few years as the demand for dental assistants rises. Hourly and annual rates differ depending on the state, location, type of work, and workload.
Employment is projected to grow 7% in the next 10 years with over 23,400 anticipated job openings. Dental assistants may work for governmental institutions, dental offices, and physician offices to determine their median salaries. Certified dental assistants, on average, have higher salaries than non-certified assistants across the board. It is highly likely that, with the demand for dental assistants, certification may be required in the future.
Although specific duties and responsibilities differ for all dental assistants depending on their place of employment, the general job description typically remains consistent. Due to the comprehensive nature of a dental assistant’s job, their duties often require both interpersonal and technical skills. Their duties are varied and, in some cases, they may be needed in multiple places throughout the office.
The American Dental Association lists common responsibilities of a dental assistant:
- Assisting the dentist in various treatments
- Taking and developing dental radiographs (X-rays)
- Writing patients’ medical history, taking blood pressure and pulse
- Conducting infection control, preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment
- Easing patients’ discomfort before, during, and after dental treatment
- Informing patients of after-care instructions following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as a filling
- Providing patients with appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health (e.g., tooth brushing, flossing, and nutritional counseling)
- Taking impressions of patients’ teeth for model creation
- Fulfilling office duties (communicating with patients and suppliers, scheduling appointments, answering calls, billing, and ordering supplies)
- Assisting in direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and oral surgery
Our students are educated and trained on these duties and responsibilities along with other pertinent skills that we deem necessary in the field. We want to ensure that our students become well-equipped and fully capable dental assistants who can fulfill any job description that comes their way.
Dental assisting comes with a plethora of career advantages and employment benefits. The ADA finds that the career provides versatility, flexibility, satisfaction, and a pleasant and uplifting work environment. Dental assistants are always on their feet and constantly needed throughout the day, making them essential components of any dental office. In most cases, dental assistants are offered employment benefits including paid holidays and time off, medical and dental insurance, and other perks.
Certified dental assistants have many job opportunities upon completion of academics and training. They may choose to work with a single dentist in a solo dental practice, a group practice with many dentists and assistants, a specialty practice, public health institutions (schools, clinics, community centers), hospitals, and dental schools. In some cases, although rare, dental assistants work with insurance companies processing dental claims, dental institutions teaching prospective students in the field, or as dental product sales representatives. Experienced dental assistants often pursue higher education to become dentists or dental hygienists.
Schedule a Visit Today
A career in dental assisting is just a few months away! The Dental Assistant Teaching Academy team looks forward to meeting you and helping you start your journey to becoming a certified dental assistant. Call our office at 757-204-2114 to learn more or schedule an appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Assistant Career and Job Description
What are the career prospects of dental assistants?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.” Dental careers are all estimated to expand over the future as people become more aware of the importance of oral health.
What is a dental assistant’s job description?
While this may vary from practice to practice, in most cases, dental assistants are responsible for performing various office, laboratory, and procedural tasks. This includes, but is not limited to, patient information intake, appointment scheduling, equipment and tool handling, and operative setup and cleanup.
What skills does a dental assistant need to have?
To be a successful dental assistant, certain skills such as good communication, listening, critical thinking, and ability to follow instructions are important to have. There are skills that may be inherent and others that are acquired or developed. Desired skills will be outlined in the job description.
What qualities make a good dental assistant?
A successful dental assistant will have a professional demeanor, a way to ease patients’ discomfort, and a positive attitude. They may also be detail-oriented, good at multitasking, and have excellent organizational skills. We believe a good dental assistant has a passion for helping people and cares about oral health.
What are the benefits of a dental assistant career?
There are many benefits to becoming a dental assistant. The primary advantage of dental assisting is salary and job growth; dental assistants can make more than the average healthcare support worker while the job growth continues to increase. Other benefits include short training, pleasant working environment, and flexible schedules.
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