Dental Assistant as a Career | Harris School of Business
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Dental Assistant as a Career

Types of Jobs as a Dental Assistant

As a dental assistant, you will be part of a bustling and high-energy office environment. You might take on a number of roles, or specialize in a particular area. Here are some of the types of roles you might undertake:

Patient Treatment

If you are more oriented towards patient treatment, you will work closely with dentists as they provide patient examinations and procedures. You will help patients feel more comfortable, and make sure dentists have everything they need, including tools and equipment. You might prepare materials for impressions and restorations, and process dental x-rays as directed by a dentist. You could apply topical anesthetic to gum tissue, remove any excess materials in a patient’s mouth in the filling process, and insert dental dams in preparation for a dental procedure.


Working more closely in the laboratory, you will make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and even be responsible for making temporary crowns. With the proper training, you might also be involved in coronal polishing and restorative dentistry-related tasks.


If your focus is in the office itself, you might work with patients to schedule and confirm appointments, maintain treatment records, order dental materials, send out bills and receive payments, and perform initial patient intake duties.

The Professional Setting

As a dental assistant, you will be working with the dentist, close to the dental chair so you can arrange instruments, medications, and materials the dentist needs to care for the patient. Dental assistants wear masks, gloves, and protective clothing, sometimes also wearing protective eyewear.

 Job Outlook

Dental Assistants: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Outlook: Since the field of dentistry is evolving in both medical and technological sophistication, and as dentists need to keep up with increasing patient loads, dentists need the help of qualified dental assistants even more today than they have in the past. In addition to entry-level positions, dentists will seek out experienced assistants, those who have completed a dental-assisting program, or those who have met the necessary requirements to take on expanded functions within the office.

Employment change. Employment is expected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, dental assistants are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the 2014-24 projection period.

Earnings/Salary Data

The earnings of dental assistants may vary, depending on their experience, skill level, and location. Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics to learn more.

Location: Geographic location may be a factor in dental assistant salaries. For the latest information on salaries as a dental assistant, visit the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Dental Assistant Resource Sites

Here are additional resources you can investigate to learn more:

Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60611

Dental Assisting National Board, Inc.
444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611

American Dental Assistants Association
35 East Wacker Dr., Suite 1730, Chicago, IL 60601

Looking for a Better Career?

Now that you've read about the dental assistant program, you may decide that you are looking for something different. At Harris School of Business, we offer numerous career-training programs that will prepare you for a better job and a better life. Check out our list of programs to find the right one for you.