Dental assistants aid dentists with patient care. They work under the supervision of
dentists and also may work with dental hygienists or dental laboratory technicians.
Dental assistants usually work in private dental offices but also may work in public
health clinics, dental schools, the armed forces and nursing homes. Their functions are:
• assisting the dentist during a variety of dental procedures.
• helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment.
• taking and developing radiographs.
• asking about the patient’s medical history.
• preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment for the dentist’s use.
• providing patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental
treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling).
• teaching patients how to brush and floss properly.
• performing office management tasks that often require the use of a personal
• communicating with patients and suppliers of dental and related products
Average Salary Range
$17,900 – $26,500
Students wishing to pursue a career in dental assisting should take challenging high school courses in science, math and English. Dental assistants receive their education and training through academic programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes or universities. Graduates of these programs receive certificates of completion. The length of the program varies with the school but is usually six to 12 months. Dental assistants
can become certified by passing an examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board.In some states, dental assistants are required to be certified in radiology before placing and exposing radiological pictures. Formal one- or two-year programs are offered for dental assistants. Training also may be available on the job