Being a Dental Assistant is one of the most fulfilling jobs that provides you with a successful career path. Even though you will have to work under dentists but this career path will enable you to communicate with various people and also understand and observe firsthand the dental procedures. This is a profession that provides you with the opportunity to take part in the dental care and also provide comfort to the patients.
Healthcare industry is one of the best options for you and it is also the fastest growing industry in the world. By working in the healthcare industry it guarantees you with the job for a lifetime. But often Dental Assistants are mistaken for Dental Hygienist. A dental hygienist is also not a dentist, they clean the teeth of a patient and a dentist performs different tasks such as fillings and bridges. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in demand for Dental Assistants all over the United States. According to a research, Dental Assistant is among the fastest growing occupations all over the world. By becoming a Dental Assistant, you can also pursue a career path in different occupations such as technology, dental hygienist or even a dentist.
One of the best thing about being a Dental Assistant is that you will never be bored. There are a lot of things to do in a dental clinic such as communicating with the patients in the examination room, set up instruments and machinery for the dentist, examine the medical records of the patients, take dental x-rays and even clean the dental instruments. Whether you want to work full-time or part-time, Dental Assistants have a very flexible working hours. Though you may have to work overtime when there are emergency surgeries at late night. If you want to work in a hospital, you will have more flexible working hours. Dental Assistants have an incredible career advancement opportunities. After graduating, working as a Dental Assistant on an entry-level job is just like stepping a stone towards your dream job. By gaining many years of experience, you can become a Dental Hygienist.
Dental assisting is one of the most demanding jobs in the United States. If you want to work in the top companies in the healthcare industry, it is important for you to understand what the employers look for in a dental assistant. When applying for a job, you must understand the skills required for a particular job and analyze whether you meet all the requirements. First and foremost, dental assistant needs to have interpersonal skills which enable them to build a good rapport with the patients, dentist and other staff members of the healthcare organization, clinic or hospital. You must have good communicating skills so that whenever a patient comes for a checkup, you can make feel him or her at ease in the examination room.
Dental assistants often work in teams and that is why it is necessary for you to be proactive. You must take responsibility of your job and have the confidence to make the right choices. It is essential for you to not fall for any peer pressure. As a dental assistant, you must master a wide range of medical skills which include handling of fluoride, anticipating the sequence of dental procedures, applying bleaching agents and sealants and developing and mounting dental radiographs. You must also know who to provide Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, take and understand X-rays, and abide by the regulations of the protocols.
It is essential for a dental assistant to be able to assist a patient in transferring themselves to and from a dental chair, render clinical dental treatment and be able to comprehend, reason, integrate, analyze, evaluate and solve complex problems. You must always have a professional demeanor by demonstrating flexibility and adaptability, presenting honest, ethical behavior and accountability and understand how to take necessary measures in order to maintain own physical and mental health and emotional stability.
The state of Pennsylvania is currently home to more than 5000 dental assistants. The average hourly salary of a dental assistant in Pennsylvania is $16.20. The hourly salary mostly starts from $10 and increases up to $25. The average yearly salary of a dental assistant is around $35,000. According to a study, the number of dental assistant jobs has increased more than 20 per cent over the past few years, which less than other sectors of the healthcare industry. It is predicted that this career path will increase twice faster than any other occupation in the United States.
The salary of the dental assistants for entry-level jobs mostly depends on many factors, which includes on whether the assistant is certified and registered, where they are located, and the type of practice they work for. As an example, a dental assistant can earn as high as $42,000 per year or more working in New York, but in Utah, he or she will earn only around $27,000 per year. Similarly, a dental assistant can earn a salary of around $41,000 by working in the top healthcare industry but will earn only about $32,200 in a physician’s office.Other factors that create an impact on the salary depends on the training received the dental assistant. A well-trained dental assistant with a certificate or associate’s degree can easily find work anywhere in Pennsylvania and the employers are also willing to offer higher salaries to make their opportunity more enticing.
Interview with a Dental Assistant
Describe a day in the life of a Dental Assistant
Speaking for myself, I wake up very early in the morning, complete my daily morning activities and commute to work. I go over the schedule and check whether any patients in the waiting room needs special care. I help the dentist in the examination room and see the patients until lunch time. After lunch, if there are any patients, me and the dentist examine them. I go through the lab cases and create models of the patients’ teeth in order to forge temporary partials or bridges for dentures. I am responsible for keeping everything organized in the clinic. By the end of the day, I clean and sterilize the dental instruments and equipment and then return home.
What are the benefits of being a Dental Assistant?
One of the best thing about being a dental assistant is able to provide care to the people who are sick and suffering from severe denture pain. It a full filling job that enables you to make the people smile after they are cured of the disease. Especially, it feels rewarding to make the children smile and make them feel comfortable after a complex dental procedure.
What is your favorite part of being a dental assistant?
I get to communicate and interact with people of different culture, religion, and country. It’s great that no matter where the patient is from, helping them and enabling them to smile makes you feel proud of yourself.
What is the dental procedure you handle on a daily basis?
I assist the dentist on the various procedure which includes restorative - fillings, bridges, crowns, cleaning of teeth, complex dental surgeries and much more.
Have you received certification for Dental Assisting?
Yes, of course. I went to college first for something completely different but once I started working I got interested in becoming a dental assistant so I attended a local trade school and earned my certification needed.
Would you recommend others who plan on becoming a dental assistant to acquire certification?
Of course, it is very important to receive a certification in dental assisting or else it is very difficult to get jobs with high salaries. Also, the dental assisting programs teaches you different fields of dental procedures and most schools also provide hands-on practice that enables you to take the role of a dental assistant.
Luzerne County Community College - Luzerne County Community College is a public two-year college that offers various programs that include associate degree, certificate, and diploma programs. The college was founded in the year of 1966 under the sponsorship of the Luzerne County Board of Commissioners and controlled by a fifteen member Board of Trustees. The college has been accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Currently, there are more than 5500 students in the college where 44 per cent of the students are full-time and 54 per cent are part-time students. The college provides outstanding education to the students and prepares them to achieve their goals. It believes in providing the foundation of core knowledge and skills, developing in contributing and culturally competent members of society and creates partnerships within the community to contribute to the economic, technological and social advancement of the region.
Luzerne County Community College provides two programs on Dental Assisting: Certificate in Dental Assisting and Diploma in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting. The certificate program provides the student a professional and ethical learning experience. The classes consist of hands-on experience, a theory class that comprises of learning communication, and dental knowledge that is required to create a positive dental environment. It consists a total of only 39 credit hours. While the diploma programs comprise of total 17 credit hours, where the students gain the academic and practical knowledge for a specialty in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting (EFDA). Upon completion of this program, the student will develop commercial skills in expanded duties clinical procedures.
Harcum College - Established in 1915, Harcum College is a residential college located on Philadelphia’s Main Line in Bryn Mawr. It offers associate’s degrees on various academics which includes liberal arts and professional studies, including dental hygiene, early childhood education, physical therapy, law & justice, and nursing, others. It is the oldest independent, associate’s degree-granting college in Philadelphia. Currently, there are around more than 1500 students enrolled in the college and about 5 per cent of the students reside in the on-campus residence. The faculties are dedicated to providing the best learning experience to the students and each class consists of 16 students enabling the faculties to provide them with personal attention.
Harcum College provides Dental Assisting program called Dental Assisting with EFDA. This program teaches the students to perform the clinical, laboratory, administrative, and educational skills of a dental assistant needed for various dental environments, demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning and professional advancement in the healthcare delivery system, Demonstrate effective asepsis and infection control management according to accepted guidelines and assert effective communication skills with patients and other dental team members. In order to apply for this program, the student must be able to master the information in the course work in the form of lectures, demonstrations, independent study, clinical experiences, written material, the material presented through computer imaging and projected images.
Bucks County Community College - Bucks County Community College is a public two-year college that was established in the year of 1964. The college is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia and provides excellent education and learning experience to the students. Currently, there are more than 4000 full-time students and around more than 5000 part-time students. The college provides a total of 80 programs that comprises of both associate’s degree and certificate programs. Every year the college enrolls around 400 credit- seeking students and around 500 non-credit seeking students. The college believes in engaging the students that will lead them towards academic excellence and provide a foundation for the pursuit of higher degrees. It aims to empower the skills and credentials of the students in order to secure employment in their fields and the capability to adapt and respond to the changing needs of the future.
Bucks County Community College provides a Dental Assisting program of only 100 credit hours. This is a certificate program where upon completion, the students understand different fields of pre-clinical dental assisting and gain training in the professional skills that is required to take up the role as an assistant in the dental practice. This program prepares you to sit for the Radiology Health and Safety Examination which necessary for a dental assistant if he or she is required to perform radiological procedures on the job.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College - HACC is a community college that was established in the year of 1964 and is located in the HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College. The total population of the college consists of 21,000 full-time students studying degree courses, and 50,000 students taking non-credit programs for certificate degree. The mission of the college is to "provide educational and cultural opportunities to the community we serve”. It is one of the largest two-year community colleges in Pennsylvania and is the first community college in Pennsylvania to obtain accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The college consists of an incredible environment in the classes and well-equipped laboratories and studios. The average size of each is 15, thus enabling the faculties to provide personal attention to the students.
The college provides a certificate program on Dental Assisting which requires you to meet the specific criteria of the admissions which physical examination and immunizations, background checks, drug and alcohol screens and CPR certification. The classes are designed to provide the students an amazing learning experience. The students will learn on how to collect diagnostic and treatment data and record the information into a dental record, accurately expose, process, and mount radiographs, perform basic supportive, laboratory, and administrative procedures required for various dental environments and perform dental operation or surgery within the legal and ethical frameworks of the dental assisting profession.
Community College of Philadelphia - Community College of Philadelphia is a community college with open admission that offers various degrees which include associate degrees, academic certificates, and proficiency certificates. The college is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and consists of a total population of more than 30,000 students. The college provides a wide range of programs such as architecture and construction; art, design and media, business and technology; health care; law and public service; liberal arts; science; social and human services; automotive technology and culinary arts. The college aims to create teaching and learning environment that represents the ongoing and productive communication and along with that prepare the students for their future career by presenting them with enjoyable challenges and accomplishments.
The Community College of Philadelphia provides a certificate program on Dental Assisting with Externship. This program teaches the students different fields of dental assisting and provides training in professional skills. The classes comprise of theory, laboratory and hands-on practice that will enable the student to take on the job as a dental assistant. The program also enables you to prepare yourself sit for the Dental Assisting National Board Exams (DANB) and the National Entry Level Dental Assisting Certification that consists of three components which includes Radiation Health and Safety Examination (RHS), Infection Control (ICE), and Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology (AMP). It is important for you to sit for these exams if you want to receive the certification of National Entry Level Dental Assistant.
Resouces for Dental Assistants: