Dental office jobs today offer individuals a chance to work with the public in a health care setting, and make good money. The field of dentistry is one of the fastest growing careers in America and new technology is expanding the work that these health professionals perform.
This is creating numerous opportunities for people to find positions as dental assistants and dental hygienists, and the prospects for both of these jobs are expected to remain excellent for the next two decades. Many of the top openings for dental assistants and hygienists can be found at the online job board, Dental Crossing. This resource has dental related careers that are open throughout the nation and will provide you with the requirements for the job, contact information, and will lists the benefits and pay.
Dental assistants are people who work closely with dentists and they perform a variety of patient care, laboratory, and routine office tasks. Assistants should not be confused with the dental hygienists, who are licensed to perform more specialized clinical tasks. This article will discuss hygienists in more detail later.
Dental assistants have a number of different duties which include sterilizing dental instruments and equipment, assisting dentists as they perform patient procedures, accessing patients’ records, taking and process x-rays, and instructing patients on general, oral health care.
Some dental assistants have laboratory duties that even include making casts of teeth from impressions, and some of the assistants are trained to make temporary crowns. Office tasks for dental assistants include scheduling appointments for the patients, making sure that treatment records are accurate, and taking care of the billing of both insurance companies and patients.
There are some assistants who learn their dental job skills as they work in an office under the supervision of a dentist. Most of today’s dental assistants now have formal training in dental assistant programs offered by community colleges and trade schools. Most of these dental assistant programs can be completed in one year or less. There are programs in community colleges and online that can provide students with the education and training degree that will qualify them for employment as a dental assistant.
Depending upon the state, there may be certain licensing or registration needed in order to work as a dental assistant. This usually involves the need to take continuing education requirements each year. Employment of dental assistants is expected to increase much faster than many of the entry-level jobs in other fields.
People are becoming more educated about the need for dental health and going to the dentists more often, and this is increasing the practice of many of these offices. There are also many procedures like tooth whitening, veneers and tooth replacements that are attracting more patients to seek dental care. With the boom in the practice, dentists are seeing dozens of people in just one day. Having qualified assistants enables dentists able to delegate more of the routine tasks, and this gives him more time to devote to the complex procedures for other patients.
The position of a dental assistant is one of the entry-level dental jobs, and advancement opportunities are limited unless the person gets further education or training. Some assistants take other dental office jobs such as office manager, or they will process insurance claims for dental insurance carriers. Others will choose go back to school to train for other positions.
The position of a dental hygienist is a specialized dental job, requiring more education than a dental assistant, and there are particular licensing requirements for this type of work.
Dental hygienists are trained to examine patients’ teeth and gums and then record the presence of oral diseases or abnormalities. Hygienists also will clean and remove deposits of plaque and tartar from teeth, instruct patients in the practice of good oral hygiene and they are trained to use a variety of dental instruments in their work. These instruments include handheld implements as well as rotary instruments, and ultrasonic devices. Hygienists use these tools to clean and polish teeth, and to remove plaque and stains.
Sometimes the hygienists will take x-rays and develop x-ray film. Hygienists also work at the chair side with dentists during treatments. Some states allow hygienists to administer topically applied anesthetics and provide nitrous oxide (laughing gas), while other states allow them to put in temporary fillings, place and carve filling materials, and apply periodontal dressings. Some hygienists may have diagnostic duties and they will even prepare diagnostic tests for dentists to review and interpret.
Dental hygienists and dental assistants work in clean, well-lit office environments, where vital health safeguards must be followed. Scheduling that is flexible is a feature of distinction of dental hygienist jobs, with full- and part-time schedules available. Dentists often employ hygienists that work just 2 or 3 days per week, so some hygienists can hold jobs in a couple of dental offices. Over half of all dental hygienists actually work part time or fewer than 35 hours per week.
Dental hygienists are required to have a current license in the state they practice in. Licensing requires an accredited degree from dental hygiene school, as well as successful completion of a licensing examination.
Most dental hygiene programs award the student an associate’s degree, although a few offer certification or other degree. Generally, an associate’s degree or certificate at minimum is required for most employment in a dental office.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has statistics to prove that dental hygienists rank among the 20 fastest-growing occupations, and the job outlook is expected to remain excellent.
Median hourly earnings for dental assistants in 2006 were about $14.53. The top earners among this group of workers made more than $20 per hour. Median hourly earnings for dental hygienists in 2006 were about $30 per hour. The top 10% in the field earned about $41 per hour. Earnings for dental assistants and hygienists vary widely by geographic location, employment setting, and levels of experience.