To have a healthy smile people will continuously need to care for their teeth. This is why dental assistants are in high demand. Dental assistants are essential contributors to the workforce of dentistry. They serve as a great support system to the dentist, and receive a first- hand look on all dental procedures. These professionals work in a face paced environment, and are strong team players. Manual dexterity is a trait that is vital to complete specific laboratory tasks. Dental assistants can have a rewarding career by providing good quality, oral care to patients.
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Roles and Responsibilities
Dental assistants carry out a wide range of responsibilities. Administration work, patient care, and lab duties all comprise the role of dental assistants. They obtain patients’ medical history, and access and update patients’ dental records. Ordering supplies, handling payments, responding to patients’ inquiries, and making appointments are among the office duties for these professionals. Dental assistants prepare materials and sterilize instruments. They work closely with the dentist by using suction instruments and other devices. They are authorized to apply topical drugs as well as extracting leftover filling in patients’ mouths. Creating crowns and casts are also other lab duties that dental assistants can perform.
As of 2010, the average salary for dental assistants was $33,470 per year. Oregonian dental assistants earn approximately $18.99 an hour or about $39,500 every year. (Figures courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment & Wages database.)
To become an entry level dental assistant formal schooling and training requirements are not required. However, high school students should concentrate on health and science classes. On the job training is offered for entry level positions. There are programs that lead to certification, diploma, or an associate’s degree. The majority of programs are about one year long with the exception of obtaining an associate’s degree. Pursuing higher education will allow dental assistants to perform more procedures.
Financial Aid Information
Federal financial aid is available for potential dental assistants. Federal aid includes, but is not limited to, Perkins, Stafford, and Plus loans. Dental assistant schools also offer aid. Grants and scholarships are also offered to those who qualify. There are organizations that award money to students, such as the American Dental Association, and National Dental Association Foundation.
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