Becoming a Dental Assistant

Here are just a few of the reasons we believe becoming a dental assistant is a great career choice…

Quick Entry into the Workforce: Compared to many other healthcare professions, becoming a dental assistant typically requires less time and investment. Our dental assisting programs can be completed in only a few month part-time, allowing you to enter the workforce relatively quickly.

Job Opportunities: The demand for dental assistants is projected to grow in the coming years. This means there will be plenty of job opportunities available in dental offices, clinics, and hospitals. By entering this field, you increase your chances of finding stable employment.

Variety of Work Settings: Dental assistants can work in various settings, including private dental offices, specialty clinics (such as orthodontic or pediatric practices), public health clinics, hospitals, and dental schools. This variety allows you to choose an environment that aligns with your preferences and interests.

Hands-on Clinical Experience: Dental assisting provides you with hands-on clinical experience in a dental setting. You’ll have the opportunity to work directly with patients, assist dentists during procedures, take X-rays, prepare dental materials, and perform other essential tasks. This experience can be valuable if you plan to pursue further education or advancement within the dental field.

Job Security and Stability: Oral health is a fundamental aspect of overall health, and dental care is an ongoing need for people of all ages. This means that dental assistants are likely to have stable employment prospects. As long as people require dental treatment, there will be a demand for dental assistants.

Career Advancement Opportunities: While dental assisting can be a fulfilling long-term career on its own, it can also serve as a steppingstone to other dental or healthcare professions. For example, some dental assistants choose to become dental hygienists, dental laboratory technicians, or pursue additional education to become dentists or dental specialists. The knowledge and experience gained as a dental assistant can provide a strong foundation for career growth.

Competitive Compensation: Dental assistants can earn a competitive salary, particularly as they gain experience and expertise. The specific salary varies depending on factors such as location, level of experience, and the type of dental practice you work in.

Making a Difference: Dental assistants play a vital role in patient care. They help create a comfortable and safe environment for patients, assist dentists during procedures, educate patients about oral health, and provide support throughout the treatment process. Being a dental assistant allows you to make a positive impact on people’s oral health and overall well-being.

Dental Assistant Job Duties

Dental assistants are responsible for the clinical function of the practice both directly and indirectly assisting the doctor. Some of the tasks that a dental assistant may be required to perform:

  • Prepare, disinfect and sterilize instruments, handpieces and cassettes.
  • Organize and set up instrument trays, cassettes and materials and prepare the dental operatory for the procedures about to be completed.
  • Directly assist the doctor during treatment keeping mouths dry and clear and passing instruments or materials at the right time to keep the doctor focused on the procedure.
  • Expose diagnostic dental radiographs, or x-rays.
  • Record and organize treatment information in patient records.
  • Gather and record both dental and medical histories and vital signs of patients.
  • Provide postoperative instructions prescribed by the dentist or hygienist.
  • Assist in the management of medical and dental emergencies.
  • Pour, trim, mount and polish study casts.
  • Instruct patients in oral hygiene.
  • Make preliminary molds and bite registrations for study casts
  • Clean and polish removable appliances

A great dental assistant keeps patients comfortable both before and during procedures. Many patients are afraid or distressed when they come to the office. Dental assistants are the first face a patient may see upon entering the clinical area and the last person to see them off once their dental treatment is completed. Not only will you find that dental assistants have technical challenges, but they must be friendly, polite and people-oriented as well.

In North Carolina, dental assistants are classified as DA Level 1 or DA Level 2. The PDF below outlines the differences between the two and how to obtain certification for each level.

North Carolina State Rules

Dental Assistant Wages

Dental assistants earn good money while working in a clean, well-lighted environment with good hours. The national average for dental assistant wages is between $13.45 and $27.37 an hour depending on skills and certifications. Dental assistants with several years of experience and expanded skills can earn over $27.00 an hour. In Charlotte, where the current demand is high, salaries are above average.

You should know and understand that regardless of whether you decide to take an accelerated course or a year long course, dental assistant wages are dependent on your chairside experience, speed and efficiency. Though some people will tell you that you will make more after graduating from a degree program, the reality is that your level of actual clinical experience will determine your starting wages. In both cases, you should anticipate that you will be seeking an entry level position. As you gain experience and value to your team, wages rise accordingly.

dental assisting annual wages bls

Dental Assisting Job Outlook

The Department of Labor puts together statistics each year about different careers. The current report states that job prospects for dental assistants should be excellent. Throughout the whole country, employment for dental assistants is expected to grow over 7%. This is much faster than most occupations – in fact – dental assisting will be one of the fastest growing occupations from 2019-2029. North Carolina, because of its high growth, is even better!

CLICK BELOW for the latest Department of Labor outlook report for dental assistants.