Becoming a dental assistant opens many possibilities
Dentistry is a fascinating field. Year after year, there are continuous improvements in dental technologies, dental materials, dental procedures, and dental practices. If you would like to be a part of this field, but aren’t in the position to become a dentist, you might consider becoming a dental assistant.
Dental assistants play an important role in dental offices by providing critical support to the dentist. They are responsible for getting the patient rooms cleaned and ready, sterilizing the equipment, assisting the dentist during procedures, and helping with administrative tasks in the front office. With these support tasks taken care of, the dentists can focus on the highly technical procedures they need to perform on patients.
Dental Assistant at a solo practice
A solo practice is a dentist office with only one dentist. The advantage of this type of job is that you get to know your dentist and what he or she expects of you. After a few months on the job, you will probably be comfortable with your routines and know what to expect each day.
This is a dental office with more than one dentist. The benefit of working in larger office is that you get to know the working styles of more dentists. You also have the opportunity to interact with more members of the dental team, including dental hygienists, other dental assistants, and front office staff.
In addition to general dentistry, there are many specialty offices that hire dental assistants. In some cases, you may need additional training beyond dental assistant training, but in other cases, you can learn the skills on the job.
Orthodontics: If you’ve ever had braces, you know what an orthodontist is. Orthodontists are known for straightening teeth, but there’s more to it than that. They have methods for preventing, diagnosing and treating various dental issues, from bad bites to crowded teeth to facial irregularities. Working in an orthodontist’s office may require some additional training beyond dental assistant training.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery: These surgeons specialize in surgical procedures to remove teeth and correct dental and facial issues. Because this is a highly specialized field, dental surgical assistants typically need to earn an associate’s degree.
Endodontics: Endodontists deal with dental pulp, which is in the center of the tooth. The most common procedure they perform is root canal treatments. Dental assistants will learn about endodontics during their training, but may need some extra on-the-job training if they want to work for an endodontist.
Periodontics: Periodontists work with the gums surrounding the teeth. They might see patients who have gum disease, recession of the gums, or other problems with their gums. Your dental assistant training will cover some areas of periodontal work, but you may need some extra training on the job.
Pediatric Dentistry: Pediatric dentists specialize in treating children. If you want to be a dental assistant in this kind of office, it is helpful if you enjoy children and if you are patient with the children’s needs and concerns.
Other options for Dental Assistant jobs
In addition to the clinical positions described above, some dental assistants find work outside of patient treatment. They may apply for jobs at insurance companies, where they would handle dental claims. Or they may work for companies that sell dental products, tools, or equipment. Or they may work in the front office of a dental office, handling appointments, scheduling, and billing.
If you are interested in enrolling in dental assistant training, there are many community colleges, vocational schools, and career schools that offer training programs. Do you research and make sure you find a school that is right for you. When you are ready to start, remember to make the most of your training by studying hard, attending all of your classes, and asking for help when you need it. Before you know it, you will be on your way to a career as a dental assistant!
This article is another installment in the Harris School of Business News and Views Blog. If you are interested in learning more about Dental Assistant training at the Harris School, contact us at any time. We offer this training program at our Upper Darby PA location just outside of Philadelphia, as well as our campuses in Voorhees, NJ and Wilmington, Delaware. Who knows? Your career path might begin at the Harris School!