Would it surprise you to learn that dental assistants are some of the most important jobs in the dental field? Without dental assistants and orthodontic assistants, our office visits would not be as pleasant. Let’s shine a spotlight on the people who keep dental offices running smoothly!
What is a Dental Assistant?
The term dental assistant sounds like it applies to anybody who helps the dentist, but it’s actually more than that. Dental assistants help manage the workflow to improve the patient experience and keep appointments running on time.
There are different types of dental assistants who can handle different tasks around the office. For example, a dental administrative assistant focuses on greeting patients and managing records while a clinical dental assistant may help with treatment. Of course, some dental assistants wear many hats, while others choose specialties.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do? A Day in the Life
Dental assistants can manage various duties throughout a shift. The job description is one of the most variable among dental jobs, including:
- Greets patients and helps them feel comfortable
- Manage office tasks and patient records.
- Assist the dentist with treatment procedures.
- Take and develop patient x-rays.
- Gather patient medical history and pertinent updates.
- Prepares, cleans and sterilizes equipment.
- Provide patient instructions for treatment and strategies to improve and maintain oral health.
Depending on the education level, certifications, and dental office, dental assistants can perform a variety of other tasks. It’s one of the most flexible and rewarding positions in the industry.
At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we’ll pay you to learn the knowledge you need to pass the Registered Dental exam, saving you $3,000+ on school tuition! Learn more about becoming a Dental Assistant.
What Does an Orthodontic Assistant Do?
An orthodontic dental assistant works specifically with orthodontists to help patients through braces treatments. They focus more on straightening teeth and correcting jaw alignment than general oral health.
What Does a Dental Hygienist Assistant Do?
Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth, take x-rays, and more, so you can imagine how helpful it would be to have an assistant. Hygiene assistants aren’t the same as dental assistants, but they offer support to keep the office moving smoothly.
How Do You Become a Dental Assistant?
Depending on what level of dentist assistant you hope to become, you may need a combination of education and training. There are about 270 accredited dental assistant programs throughout the United States, and most of them take nine to twelve months. You may be able to find some accelerated dental assistant courses.
Once you complete the required education and training, you can apply to take the proper exams for certification. Many students opt to try a dental assistant internship to get hands-on experience before taking their exams. You may want to pursue additional certifications or specialization, like an orthodontist assistant program.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Dental Assistant?
In Texas and Oklahoma, you can perform basic dental assistant support tasks without specific education or training. However, if you want to do more, like take x-rays or become a registered dental assistant, you will need to take extra steps.
Steps to Obtain Registered Dental Assistant Certification in Texas
To become a registered dental assistant in Texas, you need to:
- Hold a high school diploma or GED.
- Complete a hands-on course covering basic life support.
- Successfully complete a certified dental assistant program approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) or pass the national Dentist Assistant National Board (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Assessment.
- Apply for registration with the TSBDE.
- Submit your fingerprints for a background check.
- If you plan to administer nitrous oxide, you must complete additional training and coursework. You also need to apply for a certificate from the TSBDE.
Texas also recognizes a Dental Assistant Qualified to Perform Expanded Functions. You must have at least two years experience as a DA and complete additional training.
Steps to Obtain a Registered Dental Assistant Certification in Oklahoma
Oklahoma recognizes two levels of dental assistants. You can become a general dental assistant or a dental assistant with expanded function. Some DAs may specialize to become oral maxillofacial surgery assistants. To operate x-ray equipment in Oklahoma, DAs also require dental assistant x-ray certification.
Dental assistant qualifications in Oklahoma involve applying to the state’s Board of Dentistry (OBD) and passing a background check. Obtaining dental assistant certification for expanded functions requires education as set forth by the OBD or have a valid out-of-state permit with experience.
Continuing Dental Education Programs
Beyond the opportunities for specialization, continuing education for dental assistants can open new doors. Plus, experienced DAs can take on management positions and even help train the next generation.
Can You Find Dental Assistant Jobs With No Experience?
It’s possible to find dental assistant training jobs that provide on-the-job-training and support you through the educational requirements. Some offices even compensate you for completing dental assistant certification while you work for them.
At Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics, we provide hands-on learning experience along with compensation so you are getting paid to learn.
How Much Does a Dental Assistant Make?
Being a dental assistant may sound great, but most people want to know that they can make a living before starting a career. Though dental assistant pay scales vary by area and background, here are some average salaries.
- Average dental assistant salary: $30,000-$50,000 per year
- Average registered dental assistant salary: $32,000-$53,000 per year
- Average orthodontist assistant salary: $43,000 per year
- Average dental office manager salary: $48,000 per year
Beyond the hourly pay, you can expect some additional benefits. All employers offer unique benefits packages for dental assistant jobs, so it’s important to ask about time off, health insurance, and 401K options.
Are you seeking a dental assistant job that offers paid holidays, health insurance packages, 401K, income protection, and more? Join the Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics team!
Dental Assistant to General Manager: Meet JDO’s Rosy Oviedo
Rosy Oviedo originally joined Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics as a dental assistant, but now she’s the General Manager of one of our most successful offices! In this video, you’ll learn how she took advantage of the opportunities to grow and advance with our team.
Join the Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics Team!
Are you considering becoming a dental assistant as a career? Becoming a dental assistant is a rewarding and flexible career path with lots of opportunity for growth. Plus, we offer comprehensive benefit packages to our full-time employees that include:
- Competitive salary and monthly bonus incentives that could increase your salary by 50%
- Paid holidays
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance
- Income protection
- Long and short-term disability coverages
- Dental discounts
We also provide plenty of opportunities for you to grow and advance in your career – just like Rosy!
You don’t need experience to get started at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics because we offer entry level dental assistant jobs with hands-on training. Are you ready to work with state-of-the-art technology and world class doctors to help patients get the smiles they desire?. Apply now!