Dental assistants have many tasks, ranging from patient care to record keeping, in a dental office. Their duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where they work. Dental assistants typically work with patients to make them comfortable in the dental chair and to prepare them for treatments and procedures, sterilize dental instruments, help dentists by handing them instruments during procedures, keep patients’ mouths dry by using suction hoses or other equipment, maintain records of dental treatments, and work with patients on billing, payment, and scheduling.TCC programs that are right for you:Healthcare Programs
Dental assistants work under the supervision of dentists and may work closely with dental hygienists in their day-to-day activities. Dental assistants wear safety glasses, surgical masks, protective clothing, and gloves to protect themselves and patients from infectious diseases. They must also follow safety procedures to minimize risks associated with x-ray machines. Most dental assistants work full time. However, almost 2 in 5 assistants worked part time in 2010. Some work evenings or weekends, depending on the hours of operation at the office where they work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dental assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will likely continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services. Dentists will continue to hire more dental assistants to complete routine tasks, allowing the dentist to see more patients in their practice and spend their time on more complex procedures. As dental practices grow, more dental assistants will be needed.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.