Revealing Truths and Celebrating Dental Assistants Recognition Week

Dental assistants play an integral role in dental practices everywhere, and their commitment to quality dental care is celebrated annually. As you may know, last week was Dental Assistants Recognition Week, dedicated to the essential workers who help drive patient satisfaction. Whether it’s patient education or assisting with procedures, dental assistants are there to improve the overall patient experience and result.

Although the position is as valued and revered as it is, there are several misconceptions about what it’s like to be a dental assistant. This potentially diminishes the public perception of these hard-working healthcare professions and we want to help set the story straight. These are the most common misconceptions about dental assisting and why they’re untrue.

Myth: Dental assisting doesn’t require a lot of training.

Reality: Dental Assistant programs range in length from nine-months to two-years and require hands-on training with experienced instructors and the latest technology. With tasks ranging widely – from scheduling appointments to assisting with equipment and patient comfort – the body of knowledge and familiarity required is underappreciated by those of us who only visit the chair every six months.

Myth: All dental assistants are full-time.

Reality: Like many other in-person businesses, dental practices are not tied to set operating hours and the hours will vary from practice to practice. Some even operate on weekends to accommodate Mon-Fri working schedules. The same goes for their staff. While the average dental assistant works 35-40 hours a week, the schedule is generally flexible and most don’t have trouble finding the shifts that fit their needs.

Myth: There isn’t much room for growth once you become a dental assistant.

Reality: There are many opportunities for dental assistants to forward their career through advanced certificates and continued education. It’s not uncommon for these professionals to later transition into disciplines like office manager, dental hygienist, dental sales representatives, laboratory technologists, and even dentists.

Myth: The national job outlook for dental assistants isn’t very strong.

Reality: The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) listed the projected change in employment from 2019 to 2029 to be +7% for dental assistants, which is higher than average (avg. growth rate for all occupations is 4%). That’s nearly twice the national average. “The aging population and ongoing research linking oral health and general health will lead to continued increases in the demand for preventive dental services”, the report adds. This is also an essential field that has proven itself through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dental Assisting at Northwestern College

At Northwestern College, we celebrate dental assistants year-round. Our accredited Dental Assisting program offers industry-leading instructors and training with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and the passionate faculty and staff bring enthusiasm and compassion into each classroom. Visit our website for more information on how you can take the next step toward a rewarding career as a dental assistant!