Dental assistants provide patient care, perform office duties, and complete lab duties inside dental offices. They prepare dental work stations, sterilise and disinfect equipment, bill patients and obtain patients' dental records. They hand instruments to dentists or dental hygienists and perform limited clinical tasks on patients.
In order to become a dental assistant, candidates must obtain a high school diploma. While some dental assistants gain experience working under a dentist or hygienist, many attend 4-to-12-month programs in order to earn a diploma or certificate in dental assistance. Some states require potential assistants to take courses, while others may require state licensing or registration.
Hours and Schedule
Approximately half of all dental assistants work full-time, while half work part-time. Schedules vary according to the hours of the dental office and its staffing procedures. Because many offices are open in the evenings or on the weekends, dental assistants can expect to work variable schedules in many situations. Additionally, some assistants work in several offices for a few hours each week.
Unless dental assistants continue their educations, their advancement opportunities are limited. While many dental assistants become sales reps, insurance claims processors or office assistants, others choose to go back to school to become dental hygienists. Many offices are willing to pay for some educational expenses in order to maintain consistency and quality in staffing.
The job outlook for dental assistants is considered excellent; jobs are expected to grow faster than the average for the next several years.
Dental assistants generally make between £14,475 and £29,997 per year. The median salary for a dental assistant is £21,047. Most full-time dental assistants receive retirement plans and medical benefits, although individual employers vary in what they provide.