Dental assistants perform a variety of different tasks that surround the role of the dentist. They work with the dentist, assisting him during treatment on patients, handing instruments, making sure the patient is kept as comfortable as possible, and keeping the patient???s mouth dry and clear of obstructions. They also do much of the preparation and clean-up tasks, being responsible for sterilization of equipment and instruments. In some cases they will undertake simple procedures such as applying anesthetics, taking X-Rays and other independent processes. They may also be responsible for making appointments and other office work, and for necessary laboratory work.
Dental assistants usually enter the profession by taking a course in college or dental school, either a one year diploma or a two year associate degree. This gives students the background knowledge of health education and dental procedures that make individual processes much easier to learn, and will give them some experience in dental clinics and offices.
Individual States have different policies for licensing and for the tasks that dental assistants are allowed to do. In some States they require individual exams from the Dental Assisting National Board for procedures such as taking X-Rays, and similar procedures.
Median earnings are around $26,000 according to the US Department of Labor and dental assistants can earn as much as $38,000. Pay is often dependent on where a dental assistant is employed, in a dental practice, a clinic or a hospital, or on full-time or part-time employment.
Directory of Schools Offering Dental Assistant Education