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7 Things Your Dental Assistant Wants You to Know

Dental assisting is an incredibly important job that provides dentists with in-office and patient help. Dental assistants serve as the first point of contact for new and returning patients. They provide a friendly face to ease worries and also perform a variety of important functions for the dental practice. However, most people don’t know much about this growing profession and what exactly dental assistants do. Whether you are considering a dental assisting career or simply wish to better appreciate your dental assistant, these are some of the things you should know about the profession.

Dental Assistants Have a Variety of Responsibilities

Many people believe that dental assistants are there to simply help out a dentist. Not true! Dental assistants have a variety of responsibilities within an office. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Prepare a treatment room for appointments
  • Arrange and organize materials within a treatment room
  • Sterilize dental instruments
  • Take patients to treatment rooms and collect preliminary information for medical records
  • Help make patients comfortable and at ease about dental procedures
  • Instruct patients about proper dental hygiene
  • Take x-ray images
  • Clean and sanitize the treatment room after an appointment
  • Schedule appointments and handle other front office tasks

If these activities sound interesting to you, a career in dental assisting might be the right path.

Dental Assistants Don’t Actually Clean Teeth

Some people confuse dental assistants with dental hygienists. While hygienists clean teeth and remove plaque and tartar, dental assistants don’t handle these responsibilities. However, that doesn’t mean that dental assistants aren’t just as important for office operations. The dental assisting certificate program at Northwestern College offers a comprehensive education to help students succeed in this career. Courses include the following:

  • Patient Services
  • Use of Dental Technology
  • Dental Health Maintenance
  • Infection Control

Dental hygienists are the first line of defense for an office’s infection control plan. Even without cleaning teeth, dental assistants provide a critical role for office operations and overall patient care.  Dental assisting is a career that offers a wealth of opportunities and promotional potential. It isn’t just a job – it is a career path that can help support your family and your lifestyle, as long as you have the right training. To best prepare for a career in the field, dental assistant training programs are a great option. Through these programs, you’ll learn the skills needed to do your job and to do it well.  The right training will arm you with the knowledge and professionalism that you need to succeed in the industry.

Personal Qualities Can Make a Great Dental Assistant

Training is certainly an important aspect to become a good dental assistant. However, there are certain qualities that can help you to be successful in the profession, some of which can be developed with time:

  • Organizational skills. If you pride yourself on organizing things in an efficient manner, a job as a dental assistant might be right for you.  One of your main responsibilities will be to organize dental instruments and the office.
  • People skills. A good dental assistant will need to communicate effectively with dentists, hygienists, and patients. Many people find it stressful to go to the dentist. However, a good dental assistant can make a major difference in overall comfort level.
  • An eye for detail. Dental assistants need to follow some important and thoroughly laid out procedures. This includes detailed instructions for tasks like sterilizing a treatment room. You’ll need to be detail-oriented to do well in this field.

If these sound like qualities that you possess, a career in dental assisting may be right for you.

Dental Assisting is a Growing Career Field

Healthcare is a growing career field with many opportunities, including within the field of dental assisting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistant employment opportunities will grow 25% from 2012 to 2022. This growth is expected to be must faster than that average for all U.S. occupations.

Additionally, research has shown that oral health will see increased future demand for qualified employees. This is especially true with the aging Baby Boomer generation, which will lead to an increased need for dental care. Dentists will likely hire more assistants to complete routine office and support-related tasks. This will give the dentist more time to see patients and to focus on complex procedures.

Dental Assistants Are Professionals

Dental assistants are healthcare industry professionals that help keep a dental practice running smoothly. When working in a dental office, everything that the dental assistant does reflects the practice. The most successful dental assistants will exhibit a high level of professionalism. They go to work with a great attitude, provide patients with exceptional service, and work hard to advance their careers.

Dental Assistants Love What They Do

Dental assisting is a career field for passionate people who love to help others. There are many things to love about working as a dental assistant:

  • Helping people. Dental assistants help patients in many ways. They are often the first person a patient will encounter at the office, and they help to ease patient worries and fears.
  • Exciting work. The dental assisting career is never boring and offers a pleasant atmosphere. Dental assistants are on their feet and moving all day.
  • Meet new people. A dental office will see a variety of patients. Some are loyal and return to an office regularly, while there are also many new faces. Dental assistants can meet a variety of unique new people.

Dental assistants are committed to helping patients feel as comfortable as possible throughout their dental visit. Dental assistants have a dedication to helping others and love to make others smile. That is their job, and the best ones do it well.

If the roles and responsibilities of a dental assistant sound exciting to you, consider a dental assisting certificate program at Northwestern College. We offer the textbook training and hands-on experience that you need to become a successful dental assistant. Contact us today to learn more about our program and course offerings.