Skip to main content

What Kinds of Work Do Dental Assistants Perform?

Published on: Mar 13, 2023

Dental Assistant

What Kinds of Work Do Dental Assistants Perform?

Dental assistants typically work in dental offices, but some work for physicians. These professionals’ tasks vary, but they usually include recordkeeping, scheduling appointments, and caring for patients. Most dental assistants work closely with dentists, preparing the instruments and helping them during procedures. They also spend a lot of time with patients taking their vital signs before procedures, answering their questions, and talking to them about good oral hygiene. Some dental assistants receive training to perform x-rays of teeth and the mouth. Others perform lab-oriented tasks like taking impressions of teeth or preparing materials for temporary crowns.

What Degree Is Required to Become a Dental Assistant?

If you want to become a dental assistant, you can enroll in a community college or trade school that offers a dental assistant program. Most students take about one year to graduate, with two-year programs leading to associate degrees. You can find accredited programs through the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), part of the American Dental Association (ADA) Coursework in these programs typically covers oral anatomy, including teeth, gums, the jaw, and other areas that dentists treat. Students also learn about dental instruments, how to communicate with patients, and other daily job functions. Most students get supervised practicum experience that prepares them for employment. Educational and licensing requirements for dental assistants vary by state. In some areas, individuals must complete an accredited dental program and pass an examination. Other states have no specific education requirements, allowing many dental assistants to acquire on-the-job training.

How Much Do Dental Assistants Make?

Depending on location, experience, and education, dental assistants earned a median salary of $38,500 in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professionals who accumulate experience or work in government jobs can earn more. Most dental assistants work full-time schedules.

How to Find Employment as a Dental Assistant

According to the BLS, jobs for dental assistants are projected to grow 8% through 2031. As the U.S. population ages, the need for dental services will likely increase. Dentists will continue to see a demand for dental assistants who can perform dental cleanings and other routine but essential tasks. You can go to the ADA CareerCenter to search for job opportunities for dental assistants and other dental professionals. The ADA CareerCenter is your top source for finding job openings or recruiting qualified dental providers.