"You need to brush and floss more," are the predictable words we cringe to hear from our dentist. Some of us might be tempted to fire back, "But that's your job! You want me to do your job?" Many of us depend on the work dentists provide to us, but at the same time we begrudge the fact that dentists are the ones who give us predictable advice and cause us pain with drills and gadgets when we don't follow it. Although there's no one out to hurt dentists, there are individuals on whom dentists are dependent. These people are not only the dental hygienists whom we experience cleaning our teeth; they are the dental office assistants that literally make the entire dental office operation run smoothly.
When you earn your certificate or degree in dental office assisting, you are earning passage into a unique position in the medical field the position where dentists will actually be reliant on you. You come away equipped with the essential skills that will make any medical office, particularly a dental office, better enabled to serve patients.
Dental office assistants have a variety of tasks that help a dentist's office run effectively. To prepare for these tasks inside of the dental setting, a student learns a specific set of knowledge applicable to their future career. Typical dental assistant programs focus on medical terminology, office and clerical skills, and dentistry basics related to the specified tasks a dentist may require of an assistant. A dental office assistant is not the same as a dental hygienist; a hygienist will perform more dental-specific tasks on patients' teeth. While an assistant will have some direct oral care responsibilities, their priorities generally target administrative tasks.
When it comes to working with patients, the extent of a dental office assistant's responsibilities include welcoming them and ushering them to their dental chair, provide oral care advice to patients, schedule appointments, and process billing and payments. Other office tasks require assistants to organize files, process x-rays, generally clean and prepare work areas, and sterilize dental instruments. In general, these tasks are divided between office work and dentistry tasks.
In certain offices, where states allow, dental assistants might also have the opportunity to perform more specialized lab tasks or patient care. They might, for example, be asked to prepare a cast of teeth or create temporary crowns. They might also need to provide coronal polishing, sealant application, fluoride application, and certain types of anesthetics application.
Predictably, dental office assistants are hired to work in dental offices. These might be offices owned by one dentist or by a dental group. Because of their training, many dental office assistants are qualified to work in other physician offices, although certain terminology and certification might be necessarily acquired. Universities and other educational institutions also employ talented individuals with degrees in dental office assisting to teach others about the industry and equip them with the skills necessary to make them effective and productive contributors to the future employers.
We admittedly depend on those annoying and sometimes painful visits to the dentist's office. We can predict what they'll tell us, and we can predict what our reaction will be. But behind these perennial encounters is the office staff that specializes in running these dental institutions. If you have the motivation to work in the dental field and have the habit of being well-organized and methodical, then earning an degree or certificate in dental office assisting is the right move for you. With the benefits that this degree confers, you will quickly be recognized for your talents, knowledge, and contributions and dental as well as other physicians' offices will need you to make their practices thrive.
Below is the typical day and the duties you’ll encounter while working at a dental office.
Billing and Coding – It is common that as a dental office assistant that you handle the billing and coding of the dental office. You’ll work with insurance companies to properly bill them for work completed as well as handle any disputes from the patient. You’ll also be tasked with keeping up dental records of the patients.
Set Appointments – Greeting patients and setting appointments is the role of the front desk administrator at the dentist’s office. Learn how to properly answer the phone, book appointments and even handle special requests from the dentists.
Supplies – You’ll spend some of your administrative time ordering supplies for the office.
Marketing – You might also be responsible for assisting with the marketing of the dental office. You can work with an outside marketing agency on website updates and even help them with special coupons to attract new dental patients to the office.
Flexible Work - Part-time work is available
Continuing Education - Great way to learn while continuing with school to become a dental hygienist. Some dental offices might even pay for your dental hygienist training while if you work at least part-time.
Industry Growth - Great growth rate in the industry as well as a great introduction salary.
Great Learning Experience – One great advantage of being in an office setting is the mass amounts of experience you’ll learn while on the job.
- Clinical Dentistry
- Client Communication
- Computer Applications
- Dental Terminology
- Accounting & Bookeeping
- Ethics in Dentistry
- Scheduling Appointments/Telephone Skills
- Managing & Understanding Insurance Plans