Dental Assistants-There are several possible paths to becoming a dental assistant. Some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. In other states, there are no formal educational requirements, and dental assistants learn through on-the-job training
The role of a Dental Assistant is to help Dentists and Dental Hygienists carry out the duties of providing quality dental care to individuals as well as providing an environment with sterile equipment and a comfortable setting for the procedures to take place in.
Dental assistants are a valuable resource to the area of dentistry. While they aren’t qualified to perform cleanings or extensive dental procedures, they keep things moving at a steady pace. Their role is often behind the scenes getting everything ready. There are more duties to Dental Assistant than what meets the eye.
Being a Dental Assistant takes a particular type of person. You have to enjoy working with the public. You also have to have confidence in your abilities. A sincere interest in the dental field and helping others are also recommended. Dental Assistants must have excellent communication skills as they are an important part of the patient and dental staff relationship.
Dental Assistants generally review the medical history with the patient and help them feel comfortable prior to procedures taking place. The often explain what the procedure entails and what will be taking place. The Dental Assistant will be present during the procedure to assist either the Hygienist or the Dentist. During the procedure, the Dental Assistant will clear out the patient’s mouth, adjust the chair, move the lights, and anything else that can make the experience better for the patient. After the procedure the Dental Assistant will explain follow up treatment to the patient as well as provide the patient will information to assist in the healing process.
A Dental Assistant has to know how to prioritize their time to ensure all their duties are taken care of. One of the most important duties of a Dental Assistant is proper cleaning of all the dental tools. They must be properly sanitized. Each tool needs to be examined to ensure it is still usable. Dental assistants must also know what tools and equipment each dental procedure requires. This allows them to set up tool kits to have at the dental station prior to a procedure being done.
Dentists and Dental Hygienists depend on the Dental Assistant being alert and prepared during all dental procedures. They want to have all the necessary tools at their fingertips for easy access and to allow them to remain concentrated on the patient and the procedure they are performing. In some states, Dental Hygienists are allowed to administer local anesthetics to prepare the patient for their procedures.
A very important role of the Dental Assistant is to monitor the patient during the procedure. This may involve taking their vital signs. Other signs to watch for include changes in breathing patterns, disorientation, and a glazed look in the eyes. All of these can indicate an emergency situation. Patients may have an allergic reaction to the anesthetic or suffer a medical ailment such as a heart attack.
Dental Assistants need to be prepared for such emergencies to arise and react calmly and quickly. It is important that every Dental Assistant is trained in CPR. They should also have emergency phone numbers in place if the need arises. It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant and other staff to do all they can for the patient until proper medical help arrives. Doing so can make the difference between life and death.
The role of Dental Assistant involves wearing many hats. For those in the profession, they often enjoy having a variation in their daily routine. They love working with people as well as working in the dental profession. Being an effective Dental Assistant involves willingness to continuing learning. It requires a positive attitude and attention to details. The best Dental Assistants are those who know how to effectively communicate with the patients and the staff they work with. This is a great career for those who feel they can handle the ongoing needs that are placed in their hands.
Dental Assistant Career Colleges
Now what you have decided to start looking into a career as a dental assistant you will want to consider your options for obtaining the education you need to go into your newly chosen field.
There are many options to consider when deciding to go into dental assisting as a career choice. Many city and state level colleges will offer programs to help you start as a dental assistant however one of the more popular methods for obtaining a dental assistant certification is through a vocational or career training school.
Some of the more popular dental training schools are Apollo College which can be found at www.ApolloCollege.edu, Concorde career colleges which can be found at www.Concorde.edu, and also another very popular school is Bryman college at www.Go2BrymanCollege.com
While you can expect to make good money as a dental assistant, some of the schooling to get you started will be an expense that you need to seriously consider and plan for.
During the research that we did when writing this article we found that on average dental assistant school vocational colleges ranged between $2500 and $6,000 to give you the certification that you need to get started right away. A few schools have all expenses included however others do have material fees of up to $2500 which will want to be considered when making your choice an educational institution.
A few schools such as American career colleges www.americancareer.info offer not only dental assistant educations but medical assistant, pharmaceutical, x-ray, and nursing educations all under one roof. One of these type schools might be a great choice for you if you’re not 100% sure that a career as a dental assistant is your final destination. By going to a college or career center that offers multiple medical field positions you will be putting yourself in a great position to see exactly what all of your options are when considering a career in the health industry.
A school such as this also would be a great place to continue your education after receiving your certification a dental assistant, to possibly move up to a dental hygiene position or even possibly continue your education in the future to become a dentist or possibly even an orthodontists.
Starting now and an industry that is growing as rapidly as the health care industry is in today’s world is a great way to insure you will have the skills necessary to maintain an excellent career in the health field.
With the skills you are about to learn as a dental assistant you’ll find jobs are not hard to find if you are skilled and professional at your newfound craft.
There’s a great sense of self-satisfaction to be had in knowing that you’re doing something that helps other people and improves the quality of life for many.
One area to consider if you like children is to specialize in dental practices that cater specifically to children. Specialized practices like this are a great way to carve yourself into a niche area of the market that is always guaranteed to be highly profitable and busy.
Working with children can be one of the most rewarding parts of a dental career and I highly recommend it as a specialty area for anyone considering a career in dentistry that also has a fondness of children.
So whether you’re deciding to go into dental assistant career college as just a stepping stone for a career as a dentist for orthodontist, or if working as a dental assistant is to be your final destination I want to say congratulations on your choice to look into the dental assistant field and may have much success in your endeavors.
Dental Assistant Emergency Care
The role of Dental Assistant involves being able to perform a variety of duties. It also requires being detail oriented, alert, and able to react calmly and quickly in emergency situations. A Dental Assistant observes all dental procedures, assisting both Dentists and Dental Hygienists to perform quality procedures for all patients.
While most dental procedures are routine and take place without incident, emergency situations do take place. Eliminating short cuts for procedures and staying alert with the focus on the needs of the patient will help prevent emergencies from occurring. Planning and preparation can help Dental Assistants be able to resolve issues and remedy emergency situations with positive results for all involved.
People have been known to stop breathing during dental procedures or have allergic reactions to local anesthetics. During such a situation, it is vital that Dental Assistants are properly trained in how to assist. It is recommended that Dental Assistants know how to perform CPR. Some dental facilities require monitoring of a patient’s vital signs to help them monitor for any side effects or other issues.
Another incident that can take place in a dental facility is accidentally swallowing something, causing the patient to choke. A patient can choke on dental equipment, tools, extracted teeth, or other materials. Since most procedures are done under anesthesia, the patient may not be able to control reflexes to push the object away from the throat. Dental Assistants must know how to quickly react to prevent serious injury or death from occurring.
Likewise, objects including dental tools, extractions, and other materials might be dropped or ricochet, landing in the eye of a patient. Eye wash stations are generally available in dental facilities. Dental Assistants need to make sure they are familiar with how they work and where they are located in the facility.
On occasion, a patient may suffer from other health issues not related to their dental procedures. These health issues may include a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. Therefore, it is important for Dental Assistants to be trained in basic medical issues as well as those that relate to dental procedures.
There are other types of emergency situations that can occur in a dental facility that Dental Assistants can help with. In the event of a fire, quickly remove all patients from the building. This needs to be done keeping everyone as calm and comfortable as possible.
During an emergency in the dental facility, patients should not be left alone under any circumstances. Dental Assistants and other staff members have a duty to the patient to administer quality emergency services until the proper medical response team arrives to take over. It is important for the Dental Assistant to be able to inform the medical response team of the changes the patient exhibited as well as documentation of everything that took place prior to the event. This information can help medical response teams pinpoint the issue faster and provide adequate medical care.
Since medical emergencies don’t often occur in dental facilities, is important for staff to have regular meetings and reminders about the proper procedures in the event an emergency does take place. Practice drills are a great way to keep the policies and procedures fresh in the mind of all staff members. It is important to post phone numbers of all emergency agencies in several locations where all staff can easily access the information. However, it is not recommended the information be posted where patients can see it. For those who are already nervous about coming in for a procedure, seeing that information is not going to easy their level of anxiety. Being prepared for such emergencies will make a difference in the outcomes.
Dental Assistants need to address the issue of emergency care at the start of their employment. If no such policies and procedures are in place, encourage your employer to establish them. It only takes one incident of a medical emergency taking place for a dental facility to be sued. If they are found to be negligent it could result in charges being filed or the business having to close down. Protecting your job and the business you work for as well as providing quality procedures for all patients will ensure job security.
Dental Assistants Licensing Requirements
Licensing Requirements for Dental Assistants vary by state. In some states you don’t even have to be licensed, only show that you have completed a Dental Assistant course of on the job training. If your particular state offers a licensing option, it is to your advantage to obtain licensing as you will have a better chance of being hired over those who aren’t licensed. In general, you can also expect to be paid more than those who are qualified, yet not licensed. There are not Federal Guidelines in regards to Dental Assistant licensing. Everything takes place on the state level.
The Dental Assistant licensing exam is often referred to as DAT, short for Dental Admission Test. The test may be complied of basic information including tools used in dental offices, procedures, safety, and technology. Many states require you to complete procedures you will actually use in a dental office for an examiner. This will likely include showing your skills on safety and proper cleansing of tools.
Most Dental Assistant programs and on the job training programs are well aware of the licensing requirements in your state. The programs are customized to meet all those requirements and help prepare you for both the written and procedural portions of the exam. They can also assist you in finding out when the exam will be conducted in your area.
Regardless if licensing is required in your state or not, not employers require Dental Assistants to complete a background check prior to starting employment. This is for the safety and protection of the patients as well as the staff. If you have a criminal background, it may prevent you from being able to work as a Dental Assistant in some states. In others, you will only be barred if the crime was sexual in nature or violent in nature. Still yet, other states only prevent you from being hired as a Dental Assistant if you have a felony conviction in the past seven years.
If you think your background check will be a factor in gaining employment as a Dental Assistant, it is very important to check into the state requirements prior to enrolling in and completing a program. It is not advised to lie on your application either as almost all dentist offices will conduct a thorough background check on all individuals they are considering offering employment to.
Most Dental Assistant licenses are valid for a certain length of time. Generally three to five years. As your renewal comes due, you will be sent a questionnaire from your State Medical Board. It will ask you questions pertaining to your employment, about any convictions or pending issues that have taken place. Keep in mind that your Dental Assistant license can be revoked if the information you place on the renewal is found to be inaccurate or if you have been involved in criminal activity during the licensing period.
It is very important that you understand Dental Assistant licensing requirements vary greatly from state to state. Therefore, if you are planning to move to another state make sure you can transfer your license to that state. You will be able to if your license is in good standing and the State Dental Board is not investigating any complaints about you. The state you are transferring your license to must have the same level of requirements or less. It the new state requirements are more than you have, then you will need to obtain the missing skills or classes in order to obtain a license.
Licensing as a Dental Assistant can help you have an edge on the completion for that great job you want. It also implies to patients that you are qualified to be working in a dental office and meeting their dental needs. It can also increase your level of pay in some states where licensing is available but not required. You can obtain information about licensing exams in your area from the State Dental Board or you course instructor. The exam is generally written and procedural.
Dental Assistants Pay
Becoming a Dental Assistant not only prepares you for a wonderful career working in the dental field, is also pays very well. Since this area of employment is anticipated to be one of the most in demand over the next six years, your chances of securing a great job with great pay and benefits is very likely.
The Median hourly rate of pay for Dental Assistants is $13.62. This is well above the minimum wage established in most states. In addition to a great hourly wage, many Dental Assistants will receive bonuses if the dental office is doing well, health insurance, and discounted dental procedures. Almost all Dental Assistants receive paid vacation days, sick days, and paid Holidays.
However, earning such a high hourly wage comes with a great level of responsibility. Dental Assistants perform duties relating to patient care, office sanitation, lab duties, and assisting the dentist and hygienist with a variety of procedures. Dental Assistants need to be alert, pay attention to detail, and have effective communication skills. They must also be able to provide patients with comfort measures both before and after procedures are completed.
Dental Assistants are easily confused with Dental Hygienists. Compared to hygienists, who have a median rate of pay of $23.65 per hour, a Dental Assistant is not making a very good hourly wage. However, they are very different professions. A Dental Assistant does just that, assists the dentist and hygienist with providing the best quality care for all patients. A hygienist takes care of cleaning teeth and generally has a steady stream of patients who come in every six months for routine cleaning procedures.
The amount of pay a Dental Assistant earns depends on many factors. The cost of living in your area will be the greatest influence. The amount of revenue the dental office you work for generates will also be a deciding factor. New dentists might have to pay less than established dentists will clientele because they don’t have the traffic coming into the office. However, it is very possible your pay will increase as more patients are drawn to that dental office.
Your level of experience will also be a consideration. You may have to accept a position that pays less than average to get your foot in the door and gain some hands on experience. However, with the demand for Dental Assistants, you should have no problem securing employment. Many dental offices want to keep quality Dental Assistants. They may offer to start you at a lower entry level pay, with the understanding that your performance will be reviewed in 90 days or other time frame. Based on your performance, you pay will be adjusted at that time.
It is important to understand that certified and uncertified Dental Assistants complete the same types of tasks. However, those who are certified earn several dollars more per hour than those who aren’t certified. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to take the certification exam early on in your career as a Dental Assistant.