9 Surprising Facts About Becoming a Dental Assistant

There are more than 200,000 dentists treating patients across the country. Each of these works in some dental practice, and most have dental assistants to help everything run smoothly.

Becoming a dental assistant is a great way to get into a secure industry with a job that helps people and is always interesting.

These days many people are on the job hunt to find something that fits just right for them. A dental assistant is a great choice to satisfy many people’s desires, so we’ve put together a full guide with the most important facts you need to know about this career path.

Dental Assistant

1. It Takes Around a Year

The most common questions about this career choice are becoming a certified dental assistant and how long it takes to become a dental assistant. Both are fundamental questions!

A dental assistant program generally takes between nine and eleven months to complete. The student will go through a course of classes, practical lab classes, and hands-on monitored experience. Ultimately, they’ll be required to take an exam to prove they have the knowledge and ability to perform the job correctly.

These programs are offered at a variety of schools across the country.

2. More than Cleaning

You may think that a dental assistant will mainly focus on cleaning patients’ teeth throughout the day. But they actually won’t be doing that at all!

Instead, a dental assistant is responsible for keeping the clinic running smoothly so the hygienists and dentists can do their work without issue. This means they’ll set up the room for procedures, clean and sterilize, process X-rays, and even schedule appointments.

They work across the clinic to ensure everyone has the help they need. A dental assistant is a crucial member of the team.

3. Expanded Function

If you think being a dental assistant sounds great, but you’d also like to have more patient responsibilities, you’ll want to get an expanded function certification.

A little additional education allows you to work directly on the patients and all the other tasks. This would include administering topical fluoride, molding whitening trays, and even polishing teeth.

A dental assistant with expanded function is one step closer to a dental hygienist.

4. Traditional Work Hours

A huge benefit of being a dental assistant is that you will likely work traditional hours. Most dental offices are open the typical 8:00-5:00, giving you consistent work and free time periods.

There aren’t many instances where you’ll be required to work late, early, on holidays, or weekends.

In today’s world of fast-paced industries, it’s nice to find one that doesn’t require all of your free time with little to no flexibility.

5. Education Responsibilities

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being a dental assistant is the opportunity to educate patients during their appointments.

Often, a patient will have a problem with brushing or flossing technique, so the dental assistant will be required to go over proper practices. They may also help teach the patient ways to help their teeth be stronger, including oral health tips and better diet choices.

Educating patients is often a favorite responsibility because the dental assistant gets to create relationships with patients.

6. High Job Availability

In 2019 the job market for dental assistants grew by 7% from the previous year. This is a great indicator of the job availability for those looking to become dental assistants. Most will be able to find a job in their area fairly quickly.

When looking for how to become a dental assistant, a helpful tip is to look at the opportunities in your area before you begin any training.

Knowing the job market allows you to customize your educational experience to be in the best position to find the job you’re looking for!

7. Fast-Paced Work Environment

Going to the dentist as a patient is usually a calming experience (even if you don’t enjoy the dentist). They’ve set up an environment that makes you feel comfortable and not rushed.

But that doesn’t mean working behind the scenes is that calm.

When you’re a dental assistant, your days will be full and busy! You definitely won’t be bored or have monotonous days. Each hour requires different things from you, and you’ll always be kept on your toes. It keeps things exciting and fun to go to work.

8. Stepping Stone to Hygienist

Becoming a dental assistant is a great career choice. It’s in a stable industry and a vital position; it’s not likely that this job will go away.

But many may think they would like to be a dental hygienist, and being a dental assistant first is a great stepping stone towards that. It allows you to work in the industry doing similar tasks, so you can get a feel for whether you’d enjoy that job before investing in the additional education.

9. Huge Impact on Patient Experience

Going to the dentist is a hard and scary experience for many patients. They feel anxious and worried, even if they have a great dentist. A great dental assistant can do wonders for these patients and change their whole experience.

It’s so gratifying to be the one who calms a patient enough to easily get the care they need to be as healthy as possible.

Steps to Becoming a Dental Assistant

When you spend so much of your life working, you want it to be something you enjoy instead of dreading every day. Becoming a dental assistant is a choice that will help you feel fulfilled, safe, and financially stable.

You’ll spend your days helping patients feel comfortable, dentists give the best care, and an office running efficiently. There’s not much better than that!

If you want to learn more about this or other career options, check out our other articles today!