Dental Assistant Programs - An Overview of Dental Assisting

The importance of dental assistants in the field of health care needs to be understood better. In actuality, they are one of the most vital and valuable members of the oral health care team. Working closely with dentists and dental hygienists, they ensure the delivery of quality oral health care services to patients. Individuals with good motor skills wanting to start a rewarding career related to health care should seriously consider dental assisting. This career options can also be opted for individuals who want to take part in improving the oral health condition of patients as dental assistants are significantly involved in patient education.

Usually assistants work closely with dentist as they perform their duties in patient care. It is commonly aware that dental assistants simply assist the dentist in a variety of treatment procedures, but in reality duties of dental assistants are more than this. They are responsible for completing specific tasks that require technical and clinical skills, adequate knowledge in oral care, and interpersonal skills. Dental assistants obtain and develop dental radiographs, prepare, sterilize, and disinfect instruments and equipment used during dental procedures, take teeth impressions for study casts, prepare materials for teeth restorations, apply topical anesthetics and cavity-preventing agents, and make temporary crowns. Trained and experienced dental assistants are permitted by some states to perform coronal polishing and restorative dentistry work. In addition, they have frequent direct patient interactions; thus, it is important that they enjoy working with different types of people. They record accurate medical histories, provide oral care instructions before and after dental treatments, and educate patients about good oral hygiene for maintaining oral health. The assistants are also tasked with performing some administrative duties such as scheduling and conforming dental appointments, keeping treatment records, sending bills, receiving payments, and ordering dental and office supplies. In fact, the duties of dental assistants are among the most wide-ranging in the field of health care.

The fact is that assistants were not formally trained in the skills needed in this occupation. They knew only about the technical skills once they were taken to the job. However, in recent years, there are an increasing number of dental assisting programs offered by community colleges, technical and vocational schools, and trade schools. This is possibly attributed to the increasing demand. And so, individuals who want to have an edge should enroll in dental assisting colleges or schools accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation to obtain formal training and education, which consists of didactic laboratory and clinical instruction that develops and enhances the skills of the students. Dentals students are also trained during their on-the-job training at dental clinics and offices. Most certificate programs take about a year to complete. A two-year associate degree is also offered to students interested in gaining better opportunities and career advancement. Almost all dental assisting programs require a high school diploma or its equivalent.