Choosing a Career as a Dental Assistant: Factors to Consider

If you are looking to work as a dental assistant, there are several factors to consider. Dental assistants are essential team members in dental offices, supporting dentists and helping patients feel comfortable during appointments. 

Here are some critical points to factor in when deciding if a career as a dental assistant is right for you.

Education and Training

In Illinois, there aren’t strict requirements for becoming a dental assistant. However, formal training and certification are highly recommended. Enrolling in a dental assistant program can give you a significant advantage when looking for employment or are seeking career advancement.

Dental assistant training programs typically take one to two years to complete, including classroom instruction and hands-on training in a dental office. During your training, you will learn about dental anatomy, dental procedures, and how to assist dentists with patient care.

Many dental assistant programs offer certification or licensure upon completion. In some states, dental assistants need to be licensed or certified, while others do not. It is important to research the requirements in your state before choosing a program.

Job Outlook and Salary

Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data, hiring of dental assistants is expected to increase to 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all professions. This growth is due to a long-lived population and a heightened focus on preventative dental care.

The typical annual wage for dental assistants was $40,080 in May 2020. Salary can vary depending on geographic location, experience, and education level.

Work Environment

Dental assistants are an essential part of any dental practice. They work alongside dentists and other dental professionals to ensure patients receive high-quality care. The role of a dental assistant is diverse, and they are responsible for a range of tasks, including preparing patients for treatment, assisting the dentist during procedures, and managing patient records. 

One of the most critical proficiencies for a dental assistant is communication. They need to be able to converse well with both the dental team and patients. 

They must be able to explain procedures, answer questions, and reassure patients who may be nervous or anxious. Good communication skills can help build trust and rapport with patients, which is essential for a successful dental practice.

Dental assistants also need to be able to work well with others. They work closely with dentists, dental hygienists, and other dental professionals. They must be able to follow instructions and work as part of a team. 

Dental assistants often need to anticipate the dentist’s needs, ensuring that the right instruments and materials are available. They must be able to work quickly and efficiently while maintaining high accuracy.

Job Duties

Dental assistants perform various tasks to support dentists and provide patients with quality care. Some of these duties include:

  • Sterilizing and preparing instruments for dental procedures
  • Assisting dentists during procedures
  • Taking and developing dental X-rays
  • Educating patients on proper oral hygiene
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Maintaining patient records

As a dental assistant, you may also manage inventory and order supplies for the office.

Career Advancement

As a dental assistant, there are opportunities for career advancement. Some assistants may specialize in a certain area, such as orthodontics or oral surgery. Others may pursue additional education and become dental hygienists or office managers.

Continuing education is important for dental assistants, as it allows them to stay up-to-date on the latest dental techniques and technologies. Many dental assistant programs offer continuing education courses, and some employers may provide opportunities for additional training.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a career as a dental assistant can be a rewarding and fulfilling choice. When making your decision, it is important to consider factors such as education and training, job outlook and salary, work environment, job duties, and career advancement opportunities.

If you are passionate about dental health, enjoy working with people, and are interested in a healthcare career, a dental assistant degree may be the right choice.

Are you ready to start your journey towards a rewarding career as a dental assistant? Look no further than Northwest Suburban College! Our dental assistant education program provides hands-on training and expert instruction to prepare you for success in this growing field. Contact us today to learn more and take the first step towards your dream career.

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