Many thanks to Sunrise Kids Dental for providing the dental information you are about to read. Becoming a dentist takes almost as much time and money as it takes to become a medical doctor, and once you have your certification, you still have to spend a lot of money setting up your practice. For many people, this is just too much work. However, if you're still interested in oral health as a career, you may want to consider becoming a dental assistant. This article will give you an idea of what dental assistants do and how you can become one.
So what do dental assistants do? Many people confuse dental assistants with dental hygienists, who also work in support roles in the clinics, but hygienists have a higher level of training and are responsible on their own for dental cleanings. Dental assistants, on the other hand, work directly with the dentist, assisting during procedures and doing most of the prep work on patients to give the dentists more time to see other patients.
Tasks you might be responsible for as a dental assistant include fetching patients, settling them into exam rooms, taking dental x-rays, making dental impressions, sterilizing the dental equipment, passing tools to the dentist during procedure, and administering suction. Dentists may also ask you to handle creating dental devices such as crowns. The purpose of a dental assistant is to be the dentist's "extra hands," freeing up their time for more important tasks.
Job opportunities for dental assistants are fairly stable in Canada and the United States, though there tends to be a relatively high turnover rate in this profession because it involves long hours of working on your feet and bending over patients for relatively low pay. Many dental assistants save up to go back to school and become a dentist or dental hygienist, who have a higher level of training and responsibility. About 99% of dental assistants are women.
If you would like to become a dental assistant, you must be a high school graduate and have a certification in dental assisting from a reputable community college. Dental assisting programs are offered at almost all career colleges both in person and through distance education. The program takes about a year to complete, after which you will have to pass your examination by the National Dental Assisting Board and be registered with the College of Dental Surgeons before you can be hired.