Dental Job Overview
Dental jobs can be found in dentists’ offices and dental clinics across the country. The most common dental jobs available are dental assistant positions. Dental assistants work closely with dentists who supervise them, and they also collaborate with dental hygienists. Workers in dental jobs typically have the following responsibilities on a daily basis:
- Greeting patients by name as given by the receptionist
- Using small talk and a friendly demeanor to put patients at ease
- Answering dental patients’ questions about their oral health and dental procedures
- Making sure dental patients are comfortable in the dental chair
- Giving advice on safety in the dental chair, such as not making sudden movements while the dentist or dental hygienist is working
- Sterilizing dental instruments at a designated time
- Preparing the work area for the next dental patient
- Setting out dental instruments for the dentist to use on the next patient
- Keeping the mouths of patients dry during dental procedures by using suction instruments
- Telling patients how they can enjoy better dental hygiene
- Processing x-rays
- Making records of patients’ dental treatments
- Helping patients work out billing issues
Candidates who enjoy talking to people and who have excellent people skills will love working dental jobs. There is a lot of collaboration with other dental workers as well as with patients. Dental workers need to be willing to remain calm and professional even if the environment gets stressful.
Dental Job Education Requirements
Most dental positions require that candidates have at least an associate degree from an accredited program. In some states, dental assistants have to pass a state exam in addition to completing a degree program. Some entry-level dental jobs will be available in some cities for those who at least have a high school diploma, but even dental assistant work usually requires higher education.
There are hundreds of programs that train dental assistants and are approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. On-the-job training is also very valuable, so dental assistants oftentimes take lower-paying positions to build up their experience so that they will gain the experience that’s necessary to be prime candidates for more competitive positions.
Dental Job Market
Between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth of 25 percent in dental assistant jobs. That’s a huge rate of growth, one that’s much higher than those for most other occupations. The increasing need for dental assistants comes from the also increasing population of elderly individuals. As people get older and have more dental problems, they will need to see dentists more frequently, which keeps dentists as well as all dental workers busy. There are currently more than 300,000 Americans employed as dental assistants alone.
Dental Job Salary Information
Dental assistants earned a median annual salary of $34,500 in 2012, while dental hygienists earned considerably more with an approximate annual salary of over $70,210. While the job growth for both jobs looks very promising, those who can get a higher education will want to aim to be a dental hygienist because of the increase in pay.