Dental Assisting as a Career

Dental Assisting careers will have as you part of a bustling and high-energy office environment. You might take on some roles, or specialize in a particular area. Here are some of the types of roles you might undertake:

Patient Treatment

If more oriented towards patient treatment, you will work closely with dentists as they provide patient examinations and procedures. You will help patients feel more comfortable, and make sure dentists have everything they need, including tools and equipment. You might prepare materials for impressions and restorations, and process dental x-rays as directed by a dentist. You could apply a topical anesthetic to gum tissue, remove any excess materials in a patient’s mouth in the filling process, and insert dental dams in preparation for a dental procedure.


Working more closely in the laboratory, you will make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and even be responsible for making temporary crowns. With the proper training, you might also be involved in coronal polishing and restorative dentistry-related tasks.


If your focus is in the office itself, you might work with patients to schedule and confirm appointments, maintain treatment records, order dental materials, send out bills and receive payments, and perform initial patient intake duties.

Professional Settings

As a dental assistant, you will be working with the dentist, close to the dental chair so you can arrange instruments, medications, and materials the dentist needs to care for the patient. Dental assistants wear masks, gloves, and protective clothing, sometimes also wearing protective eyewear.

Employment Outlook

Each year the U.S. Department of Labor releases data on the estimated change in demand for a variety of careers. Details on the job outlook for dental assistants can be found in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.

According to this handbook, Employment is expected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.  As dental practices grow, more dental assistants will be needed.

Since the field of dentistry is evolving in both medical and technological sophistication, and as dentists need to keep up with increasing patient loads, dentists need the help of qualified dental assistants, even more, today than they have in the past. In addition to entry-level positions, dentists will seek out experienced assistants, those who have completed a dental-assisting program, or those who have met the requirements to take on expanded functions within the office.

Earnings for Dental Assisting Careers

The earnings for dental assistants may vary, depending on their experience, skill level, and location. The geographic area may be a factor in dental assistant salaries. For the latest information on salaries for a dental assistant career, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dental Assisting Resource Sites

Here are additional resources you can learn more about potential dental assisting careers:

Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Ave., Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60611

Dental Assisting National Board, Inc.
444 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611

American Dental Assistants Association
140 N. Bloomingdale Road, Bloomingdale, IL 60108-1017

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