The Road to Becoming a Dental Assistant

Here is the final article in our current series on medical careers other than Medical Assisting - Helen Moore gives us some background information about becoming a Dental Assistant.

dental assistant

The Road to Becoming a Dental Assistant

Assistant dentists are valuable in the way that they help in the daily procedures of dental clinics.  There are various ways through which an assistant facilitates dental procedures.  He or she takes care of handing the proper tools and supplies to be used during operations and makes sure that the dentist can operate with ease. It is also their duty to ensure that patients are comfortable enough, a task which can be more difficult especially when dealing with kids who have a common fear of going to the dentist.

Assisting the Dentist

Part of being an assistant is to do basic dental tasks such as obtaining impressions of a patient’s mouth and teeth.  They have to be knowledgeable in combining different compounds for cleaning or filling teeth.  Assistants must also be equipped with the proper training in handling medical equipments such as X-ray machines and instrument sterilizers.  More experienced assistants are allowed to remove sutures, apply anesthetics before operations and remove excess cement compound from the teeth as result of filling processes.  All of these tasks, however, should be done under the supervision of a resident dentist.

Assisting the Patient

The job of the dental assistant does not just end with helping the dentist during the procedures.  They are required to do clerical works and basic accounting.  As mentioned, the job of the assistant is not only to help the dentist but the patient as well.  As soon as a patient comes in, it is the responsibility of the assistant to retrieve the patient’s dental records.  Once the operation is done, it is also the assistant’s task to receive payments and file the necessary insurance forms.  The dental assistant must also ensure that there are adequate office and dental supplies for unhampered operations of the dental clinic.

How to Become a Dental Assistant

Since the skills needed to become a dental assistant can be acquired during the job, the position does not necessarily require a very strong educational background.  Even a high school level education can suffice, providing that one has a strong mental capacity, the ability to do multiple tasks simultaneously, and the willingness to be trained.  Excellent communication skills are also necessary as the position involves conversing with patients in person and through the phone.  These are the top skills that are required from dental assistants.  Other skills that make perfect assistants include organizational skills and time management skills.

If one is serious in building a career in the dental industry but does not have the college education in dentistry, becoming a dental assistant is definitely a smart choice as an entry level position.  The position may not require a high educational attainment but completing dental trainings from colleges, vocational schools or technical institutes will definitely increase your chances of being hired in more prestigious clinics.  Dental assistants who went through the necessary training will also have a better chance of landing jobs in clinics of more prominent dentists.  Furthermore, training and work experience as a dental assistant is a great stepping stone for career advancement towards becoming a dental hygienist or dental laboratory technician.  

As a regular contributor who delves on specific dental topics like invisible braces and incognito cost, Helen Moore has done extensive research in dental treatments, care and maintenance. You can follow her work at

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