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Dental Assistant Career Spotlight


Allied Health Program

Are you considering a healthcare career and love working with people? A role as a dental assistant may be a rewarding, fulfilling career path for you. Dental assistants play a vital role in improving oral health and hygiene and ensuring their patients feel confident in their smiles.

Dental assistants support dentists with patient care, and a variety of other tasks. They play a crucial role in ensuring a dental practice operates effectively. Typical responsibilities include preparing patients and the work area for treatments and procedures, sterilizing dental instruments, instructing patients in proper oral hygiene, scheduling patient appointments, and keeping records of dental treatments.

 The job market for dental assistants.

Healthcare jobs, in general, are in high demand in the US. As a result, the job forecast for dental assistants is bright. Dental assistant jobs are expected to increase 11% between 2020 and 2030. That means there will be approximately 44,000 job openings for dental assistants each year. Many dental offices across the US are seeking trained dental assistants to work with patients while completing other tasks under the direction of a dentist.

What are the job duties of a dental assistant?

Dental assistants play a significant role in the dental office. The dental assistant often works alongside the dentist during patient examinations and procedures to assist them in the process. If you have had a dental exam or procedures performed by a dentist, in most cases, a dental assistant was working “chairside” to assist the dentist.

Chairside assisting refers to any operation that a dental assistant performs to assist the dentist during a dental examination or procedure. Chairside assisting can also be called “Four-Handed Dentistry,” which refers to the dentist’s two hands and the dental assistant’s two hands. The dental assistant, who works chairside with the dentist, assists in the processes to ensure that procedures and examinations are completed efficiently.


Examples of Chairside assisting duties performed by a dental assistant include:

  1. Preparing trays for procedures
  2. Handing equipment, materials, and instruments to the dentist
  3. Applying the suction tool to keep the patient’s mouth dry and clear
  4. Tending to the patient during dental procedures while keeping the patient calm and comfortable

What is a Dental Assistant?

The dental assistant also performs duties to help the dental office run smoothly, including clinical back office and administrative front office. In addition to chairside assisting, a dental assistant’s additional responsibilities include:

  1. Sterilizing dental tools and equipment
  2. Performing X-rays, suture removal, and constructing temporary crowns and bridges
  3. Providing patients with postoperative instructions and general oral health information
  4. Preparing fillings and compounds for restorations
  5. Creating, forming, and polishing crowns, temporaries, and dentures
  6. Charting dental histories and any new conditions/symptoms
  7. Scheduling and confirming appointments
  8. Billing and processing insurance information for patients
  9. Processing payments

How to become a dental assistant.

To be a dental assistant, you must be detail-oriented and reliable. In this high responsibility position, patients, coworkers, and other healthcare personnel are dependent on you. This is an ideal career path if you like working in one-on-one settings, have excellent communication skills and can juggle multiple responsibilities.

Dental Assistant School in Arizona

Dental assistants must also possess soft skills to care for patients. Often, a patient can be nervous about visiting the office and dental procedures. It is up to the dental assistant to keep patients calm and comfortable. Dental assistants can be found in various locations including general practice offices, dental labs, orthodontic offices and oral surgery centers.


How to start your career as a dental assistant.

Students should complete a dental assisting education program to become dental assistants. A comprehensive training program will give you the skills, hands-on training, and dental lab experience necessary to succeed as a dental assistant. Arizona College offers a nine-month program where students learn all required skills to enter the dental assisting field. To find out more, please visit: arizonacollege.edu/healthcare-careers/dental-assistant/.