Job description: What does a dental assistant do?
One thing in advance: Anyone who decides on the professional profile of the dental assistant, above all needs a social streak. After all, you have to deal with people all day long, whom you come very close to during the examination and treatment.
Dental assistants primarily assist dentists in treating patients. This includes the following tasks:
- Calming the little and big patients
- Handing over instruments
- Documentation of the course of the examination
- Patient education about the various possibilities of dental prophylaxis and oral hygiene
Also, tasks in the administration of the practice are part of the range of tasks of dental assistants: making appointments, issuing prescriptions, and settling accounts. Other to do’s are: The cleaning and care of instruments, apparatus, and facilities.
The work-life balance of dental assistants is usually even. Many practices also offer the opportunity to work part-time. The job prospects in the job market are good.
Education: How do you become a dental assistant?
The training of dental assistants extends over three years. With good performance, it can be shortened to 2.5 years. It is organized in two ways and takes place in parallel in a vocational school and dental practice.
There are no formal requirements for starting the training. As a rule, however, dental practices tend to employ job applicants who have a secondary school diploma or a higher degree,. Almost a third of those starting their training were hired with a secondary school leaving certificate, a very small percentage without a school leaving certificate.
The following contents are on the curriculum during the training:
- Working in the dental laboratory
- Industrial and practice hygiene
- Occupational and environmental protection
- Dealing with drugs and medicinal products
- Data processing
- Data security
- Basic knowledge of diseases, anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- Medical terms
- Taking care of patients
- Use and care of medical devices and instruments
- Practice processes
- Application of X-rays
Employer: Who is looking for dental assistants
Dental assistants find employment in the following areas:
- Dental offices
- Orthodontic, oral, and maxillofacial surgery practices
- Dental clinics
- University institutes for dentistry, oral medicine, and maxillofacial medicine
- Health authorities
Salary: How much does a dental assistant make?
The income of trainees to become dental assistants varies from region to region.
Map of dental assistant salaries
The darker areas on the map show where dental assistants earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
- Median Annual Salary: $37,360 ($18.09/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $53,130 ($25.54/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $26,170 ($12.84/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Entry Opportunities: The Prospects for Dental Assistants
The job market opportunities for dental assistants are good to very good. Since 2000, unemployment in this area has fallen by an impressive 74 percent.
Application: How do dental assistants score
Dental assistants can score points in their application documents with the following soft skills:
- No reservations when dealing with people
Hard skills that you need in this profession are:
- Technical terminology (medical)
- Medical documentation
- Patient admission
- Patient care
- Practice organization
- Practice management
- Prophylaxis treatment (dentistry)
- Dental treatment assistance
- Evaluation standard for dental services
- Office and administrative work
- The fee schedule for dentists
- Orthodontics (care, assistance)
- Hospital and practice hygiene
- Rescue measures, first aid
- X-ray assistant
- Radiation protection
- Dental laboratory work
Career: The development opportunities as a dental assistant
There are different training courses and advanced courses that help to boost your career:
- Assistant Dental Practice Management: Assistants for dental practice management take on tasks in the practice organization and administration.
- Dental Prophylaxis Assistant: The advanced training aims to impart comprehensive knowledge in the areas of caries and gingivitis prophylaxis and professional tooth cleaning to carry out treatments under dental supervision that are intended to prevent tooth and gum disease.
- Dental assistant: One focus of the dental assistant is in the field of treatment-accompanying and supporting periodontal therapy, caries prevention, and oral prophylaxis.
- Dental Administrative Assistant: The advanced training offers a specialization in the areas of practice organization, administration, and communication.