Your Path to Becoming a Dental Assistant

Required Courses
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Office Practices

Dental assistants work closely with patients, dentists and dental hygienists. Dental assistants educate patients on dental health and perform routine cleanings, and assist the dentist with more complex procedures like fillings for cavities, etc.

Dental assistants are also involved with laboratory work. Dental assistants also provide basic office duties like greeting patients, answering telephones and patient inquiries.

Step 1 Education

Dental assistants are usually required to have a high school diploma or GED. However in most states there is no formal education required to become an entry-level dental assistant. With additional training or program completion, a dental assistant may receive higher pay or more benefits.

Although in most states there is no formal training requirement, most states do regulate what exactly dental assistants are able to do in the workplace. Some states also require a dental assistant to be licensed.

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Step 2 Job Search

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects excellent job opportunities for dental assistants. Over the next decade, dental assistants can expect great employment opportunities and competitive salaries.

The BLS estimates dental assistant careers to grow as much as 36 percent over the next decade, which is much faster than the nation's average for employment.

Step 3 Career

Dental assistants work in dental practices and assist dentists and hygienists with patient dental care. Dental assistants may also work in dental labs preparing and sterilizing dental tools as well as performing tasks such as molding impressions, etc.

Dental assistants work on a daily basis to help the dental office run affectively. As the dentist is usually busy running between patients, it is the dental assistant's job to perform the more basic tasks for each patient, and to assist the dentist with more complex tasks.

In addition, dental assistants may help with the front desk, greeting patients upon arrival, answering phones, helping with insurance, etc.