One of the most basic questions a prospective dental assistant asks before investing time and money in his or her education is, quite simply, what does a dental assistant do? This simple question is a perfect starting place as you research this fast-paced, ever-changing field.
One consideration to make before deciding on any career in health care is that fields are always evolving. Because new technological advances are always taking place, professionals working in health care must adapt well to change and find being on the cutting edge of change exciting.
A dental assistant wears many hats, depending on the office where he or she works. In a typical day, a dental assistant might perform administrative office tasks, provide patient care, prepare equipment and supplies for the dentist, assist with X-rays and basic procedures.
There are many physical demands associated with this career that too often students forget to consider. Dental assisting is one career that requires professionals to be on their feet for much of the workday and demands close proximity to patients. If you are one who prefers maintaining your own personal bubble, this might not be the right career for you.
Considering the work environment is particularly important before embarking on a brand new career. Are you comfortable working with individuals who are in pain? While initially you might have an interest in pediatric dentistry, consider that most children do not enjoy going to the dentist. Do you feel confident in your ability to remain professional and even-tempered even when dealing with distressed patients? Strong relationship skills are a must for anyone considering a career as a dental assistant as well.
Now that you are interested, you might be wondering how to become a dental assistant. The education is quite straightforward. While requirements change depending on the state, the most common career path starts with a postsecondary certificate in dental assisting.