When you walk into a dental office you normally don’t sit down with your dentist right off the bat. Normally you see the receptionist, then the dental assistant. Only after that will you see the actual dentist.
The dental assistant is an invaluable bridge between the dentist and their patients. This makes selecting an assistant a very big declension here at Mint Dental, one which we take very seriously.
What is a Dental Assistant
As the name implies, a dental assistant will help the dentist with any tasks that he or she normally doesn’t perform. This includes making patients feel comfortable upon arrival, doing pre-inspection and surgery tasks, assisting the dentist during procedures and surgeries, and making sure the dentist has the tools he requires.
Depending on the size of the office tasks related to insurance, billing and clerical could all fall to the dental assistant as well.
This also means that a dental assistant should be personable, as they will spend much more time with the average patient than the dentist will, and will be answering a wide variety of questions.
Becoming a Dental Assistant
Schooling is important for a dental assistant because once they are in a practice they’ll need to have a wide variety of skills. There are a wide variety of programs available to learn these skills, but they generally fall into 3 categories.
1. Certificate Programs
There are plenty of 8 week to 1 year certificate programs that are available to teach you many of the skills you need. If you are trying to get hired by a particular dentist, or have an area in mind, you may want to research which programs those dentists recommend before picking a certificate program.
2. Associates Degree
Most community colleges and technical schools will offer a nursing or dental assistant program that is accredited and carries a little more professionalism and weight with dentists that certificates. This is a 2 year degree, so will require a bit more of a commitment than a certificate, but could also result in a higher salary down the road.
3. On Job Training
For most people this will accompany one of the first two options. It is rare that you’ll be hired and trained on the job without any prior experience. It is very possible that you might pick up an entry level position while taking a certificate program or during your associates degree though.
Questions about Dental Assistants?
Without good dental assistants it is very hard for a practice to succeed, as they are vital to many day to day operations of the office.
If you’re interested in becoming a dental assistant, or have other questions about schooling, the job description, or pay, feel free to contact us at 907-313-1857 or on our contact page!