Career Advice

Dental Assistants: Reasons to work as one (Plus Definition)

Careful consideration, research, and a final decision may be necessary to select the career that is ideal for you and your individual needs. Reading about what to expect from the work can be useful if you’re thinking about becoming a dental assistant. By becoming aware of the advantages and challenges of the position, you may decide for yourself whether a career in dentistry is the best fit for your abilities, personality, and professional objectives. In this post, we define a dental assistant and list nine justifications for considering a career in the field.

The definition of a dental assistant

An individual in the medical field known as a dental assistant assists dentists in taking care of patients’ teeth, mouths, and gums. Dental assistants can become qualified for their jobs by attending training courses that instruct them on crucial abilities for helping dentists and patients. While specific duties may differ, the following are common duties that dental assistants frequently perform:

  • Assist patients in getting ready for regular cleaning and procedures
  • Sanitize tools and equipment
  • During patient appointments, pay attention to and support the dentist.
  • Conduct X-rays on patients
  • After operations or cleanings, assist the patients.
  • Recommend treatments and provide advice to patients on maintaining good oral hygiene
  • Ascertain the dental routines and concerns of your clients.
  • Provide dentists with critical patient information

The benefits of becoming a dental assistant

The following are some benefits of becoming a dental assistant if you’re thinking about pursuing that career:

1. There are solid work prospects.

The numerous options you’re likely to come across for the work make it an alluring choice to think about working as a dental assistant. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the employment outlook for dental assistants is 11%, which is quicker than the national average for all occupations. The BLS estimates that throughout the ten-year timeframe from 2020 to 2030, the occupation can anticipate an average of 44,000 new jobs annually.

2. You can assist others.

The potential to make a difference in people’s lives is yet another reason to think about working as a dental assistant. Your patients’ cleanliness, confidence, and general health can all be enhanced by keeping healthy gums and teeth. You may encourage children to prioritize their oral health and form positive habits by assisting them in keeping their teeth healthy and free from disease or damage.

3. Possibilities exist for career growth

You can find out if you have a passion for the industry by working as a dental assistant. If you’re interested in a career in dentistry, you can continue your education to become qualified for a position as a dental office administrator or dental hygienist. These positions may provide assistants more chances and even greater earning power.

4. Dental assistants usually work on set schedules

The majority of dental workplaces follow established schedules. The majority of dental assistants work eight-hour days during the week. The majority of assistants do not deal with urgent situations or requests made after hours, unlike other health workers. They may find it simpler to maintain other commitments, such as child care or other work, due to the predictability.

5. You can choose where to live and work.

You may probably get a job practically everywhere you wish to work because there is a great need for dental assistants and a positive employment outlook. Every community in the nation, from small, isolated settlements to larger metropolis, has a dental facility. Anywhere you go, there’s a good chance you’ll have access to options that let you live where you choose.

6. It takes less than a year to become licensed

Although the program you select may require more or less time, the majority of dental assistant training courses last nine to eleven months to finish. You may manage other responsibilities while pursuing a career as a dental assistant thanks to the numerous programs that provide flexible schedules and possibilities for online study. You may be able to find rewarding jobs and begin working after only a very short amount of time in an authorized program thanks to the pretty brief academic qualifications.

7. Most opportunities provide respectable compensation and perks.

Depending on your financial objectives, becoming a dental assistant might be relatively rewarding, especially when you consider the job’s fairly low training requirements. Average annual compensation of $62,719 is received by dental assistants. Their real compensation expectations may differ depending on their level of experience, the job, and the area. Many jobs also come with perks like 401(k) plans, health insurance, and paid time off. A job as a dental assistant could be a terrific way to secure stable employment, perks, and job prospects that don’t necessitate a college degree.

8. It is fascinating

The daily routine of dental assistants might be expected to bring fresh experiences. Their occupations allow them to communicate with patients and other personnel of the patient’s medical team, which makes work more enjoyable and social. Those with an interest in oral hygiene and health get to see a variety of treatments and conditions, which exposes them to new information and abilities.

You can discover the many instruments dentists use, the right sanitization and sterilization procedures, and how to support the dentist you’re working with while doing dental assistant training. These practical abilities can help you provide patients with the finest care possible and also introduce you to a variety of fascinating new concepts and information.

9. You can do your job in a comfortable setting.

The majority of dental assistants collaborate with dentists, other assistants, and office personnel while working at dental offices. Dentistry might be a nice environment if you prefer small teams that let you form good working ties. Working as a dental assistant also enables you to be active and social during the day, which is advantageous for individuals who do not consider desk or computer work interesting. Additionally, clothing standards frequently mandate that assistants put on comfortable shoes and clinical scrubs, which might be comfier than formal office work clothes.

10. The Relationship between Oral and General Health

The relationship between dental health and overall health has received more attention recently. They now understand how closely linked the body and mouth are, with several oral health problems sharing health risks with other chronic illnesses and ailments. The general population’s demand for preventative dental care will rise as researchers continue their research and inform the public.

11. A Growing Demand for Dental Care

In addition to the fact that more people are actively seeking out preventative dental treatment, population expansion also inevitably raises the need for dental services. Additionally, older adults are more likely than in the past to keep their teeth, which expands your patient base. Keep in mind that both general and specialist dentists, such as endodontists, dental surgeons, and orthodontists, require dental assistants. Therefore, there will be employment prospects for dental assistants anywhere you live.

12. The Roles of Dental Assistants are Being Expanded by States

The expanding range of professional tasks that a Dental Assistant might take on is another fascinating facet of the position. Dental assistants may perform additional tasks, such as placing and carving restorations, taking final impressions, and applying sealants, in some states.

13. You can pursue this line of work anywhere.

Every region of the US has dental offices, from big cities to little towns and everywhere in between. This implies that no matter where you decide to live, your Dental Assisting certificate may present you with prospects. Never will you feel stuck in one spot. You will become an even more helpful tool for any dental clinic as you continue to build your excellent abilities.

14. Prepares You for Additional Careers In Healthcare

Not only is it lucrative right away, but dental assistance is also a good method to gain the necessary experience to qualify for various employers in the healthcare sector. You will learn about the operations of a thriving dentist clinic as a Dental Assistant, including patient care, management, office operations, and more. You may be able to advance in your career by doing this.

Dental hygienist, office manager, dental instructor, or expert in dental insurance claims are a few possible jobs.

15. Making connections with patients

You’ll rapidly come to understand your significance in the office if you work as a dental assistant. When they are anxious, patients will look to you for reassurance, warmth, and hospitality. A patient’s visit can be significantly improved by a warm grin, and they rarely fail to express their gratitude.

16. Dental assistants can spread more smiles.

Dental assistants are crucial to the field of dentistry. To deliver top-notch dental treatment, they collaborate with dentists, dental specialists, and patients. To succeed as a dental assistant, a person must be able to take notes, take x-rays, and cultivate a cheerful outlook. Dental assistants have received training to offer patients quality dental care. In a kind, considerate, and expert setting, as a dental assistant, you may assist in giving patients a beautiful smile.

17. Occupational Safety

Although they aren’t frequently thought of as dangerous, dental offices can be. Radiation-emitting tools like dental drills and x-ray machines are used by dental assistants. Dental assistants are advised by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take every precaution to avoid using radiation devices. The use of heavy equipment and sharp objects by dental assistants puts them at risk for occupational accidents. Make careful to inquire about any safety issues with your training facility.

18. Work Organizations

Getting to know other staff members and making new acquaintances while working as an office assistant is a terrific opportunity. The dentist, the dental hygienist, and the dental lab technician must all be close collaborators with the dental assistant. Careers as dental assistants are rewarding and essential to giving patients the greatest dental treatment.

19. Rewarding Work

Knowing they are assisting others gives many people a great sense of fulfillment in their work. You can achieve both professional and personal fulfillment by choosing a career that allows you to give a service that others will value.

20. Exceptional Dental Foundation

The skills dental assistant obtains during their training is transferable to numerous other professional pathways due to the thorough syllabus dental assistant courses follow.  Your certification as a dental assistant can serve as a launching pad for careers as a dental professional, dental technologist, or even a dentist.

21. Opportunities for Women and Minorities

Outstanding job prospects are available in dentistry for minority students. There is a critical demand for dentists from underrepresented communities. When the dentist is conversant in the patient’s language and understands their ethnic heritage, dental care could be received more kindly. Currently, there are several career options available for women in dentistry.

How to train to work as a dental assistant

Aside from specialized education and certificate programs, there are other things you can do to qualify as a dental assistant. Training courses that you can finish in less than a year are offered by numerous technical and vocational colleges. An associate’s degree in dental assisting will help you stand out from the competition when you’re seeking work and can also help you become ready for higher education. To qualify as a dental assistant, follow these steps:

1. Enroll in a training program for dental assistants

You must first finish a dental assistant course to work as a dental assistant. Such courses are typically provided by community colleges, technical institutions, or dental colleges. Programs last nine to eleven months and cover a wide range of subjects, including physiology and anatomy, microbiology, dental sciences, dental radiography, dental neck, and head anatomy, as well as various other specialist courses that concentrate on dental procedures.

2. Do an externship

In addition to the curriculum, educational programs for dental assistants may also include an externship aspect. Externships or clinical services provide dental assistants with on-the-job training to help them hone their skills. A dental office job occasionally could call for this kind of training for professional growth. Externships provide students with the opportunity to apply what they have studied while also gaining valuable job experience that can advance their careers.

3. Get a certification

Aspiring assistants may sit for the Certified Dental Assistant exam, the Certified Orthodontic Assistant exam, or the Expanded Functions Dental Assistant exam after completing a dental assistant school. The Dental Assisting National Board provides each exam. To broaden your skill set, you might choose to take all three tests.

4. Fill out job applications.

You can start applying for positions that match your career objectives once you have attained at least the position of a trained dental assistant. Before beginning to send applications, be sure to check and structure your CV and cover letter. You might find opportunities for additional career development and ongoing education as your career progresses.

5. Specialize to grow your career

A few of the qualifications available to dental assistants are for specialized professions that demand certain competencies. For dental assistants who want to pursue a specialty outside of general dentistry, there are two options: orthodontics and dental surgery. Additionally, dental assistants with an associate degree have the possibility of earning a bachelor’s degree; if becoming a dentist is something that interests them, they could do so in the future.

Skills for a dental assistant

Several responsibilities must be completed by dental assistants. Certification and training courses for dental assistants can aid in the development of the necessary job abilities. Although they may differ, skills often consist of:


A crucial component of the job is communicating with patients. Dental assistants who interact with patients and office employees should be excellent communicators and empathetic.


Dental assistants collaborate with patients, technology experts, office receptionists, and dentists. Working together as a team is an essential element of dentistry, thus dental assistants must be motivated and at ease doing so.


There may occasionally be issues with reading X-rays, treating patients, and helping patients through procedures, including an unanticipated cavity or a dental crisis. The ability to recognize and address potential problems calls for dental assistants to have exceptional problem-solving abilities.


Dental assistants frequently use computer software to maintain records, arrange appointments, and document patient information. As a result, knowledge of spreadsheets, maintaining records, and appointment scheduling software may be needed for assistants.

Office setting for dental assistants

The typical workday for dental assistants occasionally includes weekends and evenings. The treatment space must be kept clean, and helpers should expect to obey safety and health regulations by doing so. They should also follow the correct procedure for handling and discarding things that could potentially represent a health risk.

Assistants frequently use X-ray machines and should be certified in radiology to do so. Additionally, dental assistants spend a lot of time sitting while working alongside the dentist in the examination room during operations and treatment administration.

3 essential characteristics of a successful dental assistant

The seamless and effective operation of dental offices is made possible by dental assistants. Dental assistants assist in all areas of the practice, including the front desk, the exam rooms, and the back office. Dental assistants aid dentists in carrying out their duties effectively, making patients comfortable, and maintaining productive practices. Their work ranges from assisting with patient exams to processing crucial documentation to instructing patients on good dental hygiene.

There are a few traits you should have if you’re thinking about working as a dental assistant. Although having these characteristics already is a fantastic place to start, you may also work on them to further your career. Developing your abilities while obtaining your certifications will be very beneficial to you in your position as a dental assistant.

Of course, if you’re unsure whether to enroll in the eight-month course to learn how to be one, this list may also assist you in determining if you’re a good fit for the job.

1. You’re meticulous and well-organized.

Being organized and careful is a trait of a great dental assistant. This can benefit them in many areas of their career for several reasons. Here are some examples of the various facets of the position where being careful and structured can be beneficial:

  • Keeping Records

Important paperwork and patient files are frequently kept organized at dental offices with the aid of dental assistants. They may be required to take new patient records or update existing data. Maintaining an organization enables the office to give its patients higher-quality care. It indicates that all paperwork and records are current, making it simple and trustworthy to access pertinent patient reports. Patients must feel comfortable entrusting their dentist with their information, particularly if it pertains to sensitive financial, private, or health files.

  • Disinfecting Tools

Planning and managing workspaces and equipment requires meticulousness as well. Dentists’ workspaces and equipment are frequently organized by dental assistants. The wellness of your patients and the cleanliness of your office are guaranteed by properly cleaned equipment. Making dentists’ workstations clean and tidy simplifies their tasks and enables them to provide patients with high-quality care.

  • Providing Examination Assistance

During examinations, dental assistants frequently work alongside dentists. In addition to managing the equipment while the dentist works, they can take impressions, summarize patient requirements and concerns, and deliver summaries. Dental assistants must be organized and have a functional understanding of the equipment and what the dentist wants.

  • Managing Payment and Billing

The dental assistant may occasionally be required to collect patient data, including insurance and billing information. Dental assistants are required to achieve this by creating receipts, accurately recording data, and updating patient files and the business’s finances to reflect payments. Keeping things structured keeps confidential information secure and guarantees that the office bills for services accurately.

  • Making appointments for patients

Patients’ appointments may also fall under the purview of dental assistants. Assistants can better manage their weekdays and keep the patient on schedule for the right services by keeping an orderly schedule. Organizational abilities might also be useful for this work since some offices prefer to send out patient notifications.

2. You Have the Ability to Multitask

Dental assistants must be good multitaskers because they manage a variety of duties. For instance, they might be setting up exam rooms while also completing patient records or escorting clients to appointments. By completing these duties concurrently, patients can experience a more seamless visit, and the day will go off without a hitch.

They must also have the capacity to manage a variety of duties. Dental assistants may oversee several elements of the practice, depending on their specific job. This involves front desk duties like filing, taking payments, setting up appointments, and distributing the proper documents to patients. It also involves supporting dentists in their work and lending a hand as they carry out examinations and operations. Another crucial component of the work is the ability to inform and interact with patients.

With such a wide range of duties, multitasking skills are crucial for dental assistants.

3. Your communication abilities are excellent.

Dental assistants also need to have excellent communication abilities. Their relationships with patients and the dentists they support will be made easier by these abilities. Here is a closer look at some roles where communication abilities are essential:

  • Patient Education

Teaching patients about appropriate dental health and practice guidelines is among a dental assistant’s key duties. They may also explain to patients the nuances of specific processes or aspects of the assessment. For a dental assistant to be successful, she or he must be able to effectively teach patients so that they comprehend important information regarding their health.

  • Taking notes on patient updates

Patient communication is a two-way street. The dental assistant must be capable of listening to the patient’s worries, updates, and questions in addition to being able to talk clearly so that they can comprehend what is happening and what measures they need to do. The time spent with patients by dental assistants can occasionally exceed that of dentists. Giving patients the best care possible depends on being a caring listener and paying attention to crucial information.

  • Providing dentists with Vital Patient Records

Patients frequently discuss their requirements, problems, and concerns with dental assistants. When it is suitable, dental assistants can give dentists summaries for the dentist can give the patient the proper kind of care.

Average pay and employment prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2020 and 2030, the employment of dental assistants will increase by 11%. It is anticipated that there would be 44,000 vacancies for dental assistants annually. Many of those positions are expected to be brought about due to the necessity to replace people who change careers or retire.

The base wage for the position is typically $63,302 per year. Dental assistants typically work full-time, and their pay is determined by their level of expertise, as well as the size, nature, and company location where they are employed.


Now that you are better informed about careers as dental assistants, you should start your investigation. To find out more about the best dental schools, their programs, and the application procedure, visit their websites. Find a dental assistant school that best suits your academic as well as personal objectives.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Assistants

  • Why do I want to work in dentistry?

Being a dentist lets you run your own business. Dentists can successfully juggle their professional and personal lives to satisfy their unique requirements and preferences. Careers in dentistry include clinical work, education, research, public health, and administration in both private and public settings.

  • What do you consider to be the most essential characteristic of a dental assistant, and why?

One of the most crucial abilities a dental assistant may possess is attention to detail. They can effectively use this talent in a variety of work-related situations, including sterilizing equipment, locating pertinent information in medical charts, and setting up patient rooms and care delivery areas.

  • What makes becoming a dental assistant interesting?

Dental assistants are allowed to instruct patients about dental hygiene.

You can combine creativity and education in this aspect of your work. Among the most satisfying aspects of your employment may be educating patients about nutrition and diet, correct brushing and flossing techniques, and arranging their next appointment.

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