Health Career Center

Dental Assistants

Dental assistants administer multiple dental health treatments and laboratory responsibilities. They’re responsible for sterilizing and organizing tools for dentists, asking patients questions about symptoms, and maintaining dental records. Assistants ensure patients are comfortable before treatments and assist dentists administering dental procedures. Additionally, dental assistants clear patients’ mouths of saliva with suction hoses and teach them how to take better care of their teeth and gums.

Dental assistants also take dental x-rays, apply topical dental anesthetics, and remove sutures and excess compounds used to fill cavities. In some states, dental assistants are permitted to administer coronal polishing and perform some restorative dental procedures.

Dental assistants assigned laboratory responsibilities make teeth casts, clean appliances that can be removed, and create temporary crowns. Administrative duties for dental assistants include scheduling appointments, processing payments, maintaining records, submitting invoices, and ordering dental and office supplies.

Education and Training

Assistants occasionally complete on-the-job training, but most complete formal training programs at vocational and technical schools, community colleges, and military bases. It typically takes a year to finish a program. Many schools offer associate’s degree programs in dental assisting. To be admitted into a program, students are required to hold a high school degree, and certain programs require prior completion of computer science courses. Numerous privately owned vocational schools administer 4-6 month dental assisting programs, but these programs are not recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Many states have licensing requirements for assistants who perform advanced dental care functions and take x-rays.

Job Outlook

Job growth for dental assistants is projected to increase at an above average rate, so job opportunities should be plentiful for these specialists. Job growth is estimated to increase by 36 percent through 2018, an above average rate compared to other industries. Growth for these specialists will be spurred by demand for preventative dental care, population growth, and increasing amounts of older patients retaining natural teeth. It’s also estimated that dentist jobs will be filled by new dentists who rely heavily on dental assistants. Likewise, as dentists increase their clientele, it’s projected that they’ll hire extra assistants to administer routine tasks, so they can perform more complicated treatments.

Healthcare Degree Search
Search top accredited healthcare degrees and programs.
Featured Health Articles
A Career in Healthcare »
Healthcare is one of the largest industries in the world, providing over 14 million jobs in the United States alone. [more...]
The Ever-Growing Healthcare Industry »
In some industries career opportunities have all but evaporated, but the healthcare industry continues to provide job opportunities. [more...]
Rewards of Working in Healthcare »
Although healthcare jobs can be stressful, most professionals agree a career in health is also very rewarding. [more...]
10 Fastest Growing Allied Health Careers »
Of the twenty fastest growing occupations in the United States today, not surprisingly, eight of them are in health care. [more...]

Psychologists specialize in analyzing human behavior and brain function. They study all features of human experience, including child development, cognitive function, and human relationships. Psychology offers a wide array of career opportunities.

Salary: $30,000 - $78,654

Education: 4 - 8 Years (beyond high school)

Job Outlook: Excellent

Learn more...