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What You Need to Know About Dental Assistants

Example of a Dental Assistant Job Assist dentist, set up equipment, prepare patient for treatment, and keep records.

Life As a Dental Assistant

  • Instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs.
  • Apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.
  • Pour, trim, and polish study casts.
  • Order and monitor dental supplies and equipment inventory.
  • Record treatment information in patient records.
  • Clean teeth, using dental instruments.

What a Dental Assistant Should Know

These are the skills Dental Assistants say are the most useful in their careers:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Dental Assistant Jobs

  • Surgical Dental Assistant
  • Dental Nurse
  • Dental Aide
  • Orthodontist Assistant
  • Dental Office Manager

Job Demand for Dental Assistants

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 332,000 jobs in the United States for Dental Assistants.

New jobs are being produced at a rate of 19.5% which is lower than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 64,600 new jobs for Dental Assistants by 2026. The BLS estimates 45,900 yearly job openings in this field per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Dental Assistants in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Dental Assistants are California, Texas, and New York.

Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Vermont, or Mississippi. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Do Dental Assistants Make A Lot Of Money?

The salary for Dental Assistants ranges between about $26,940 and $54,800 a year. The median salary for this occupation is $38,660.

Salary Ranges for Dental Assistants

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for jobs of this type in different U.S. states.

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

Minnesota

$49,880

District of Columbia

$49,220

New Hampshire

$48,760

Alaska

$47,330

North Dakota

$46,640

Massachusetts

$46,070

Virginia

$44,640

Connecticut

$44,520

Rhode Island

$43,710

Washington

$43,680

Oregon

$43,440

New Jersey

$43,110

Vermont

$42,640

Maine

$42,250

Maryland

$42,080

North Carolina

$41,790

Iowa

$41,100

Delaware

$41,060

California

$41,030

Indiana

$40,790

Arizona

$40,680

Colorado

$40,390

South Carolina

$39,750

Florida

$39,590

Illinois

$39,370

Pennsylvania

$39,200

New York

$39,130

Ohio

$38,960

Hawaii

$38,860

Wisconsin

$38,630

Missouri

$38,350

Nevada

$38,240

South Dakota

$37,820

Tennessee

$37,610

Montana

$37,310

Michigan

$37,140

Kansas

$37,040

Nebraska

$36,860

Texas

$36,820

Georgia

$36,710

Oklahoma

$36,550

Kentucky

$36,060

Wyoming

$35,220

New Mexico

$34,870

Idaho

$34,800

Arkansas

$34,080

Alabama

$33,650

Mississippi

$32,900

Louisiana

$32,340

West Virginia

$31,410

Utah

$31,280

What Tools & Technology do Dental Assistants Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Dental Assistants:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Excel

How to Become a Dental Assistant

What education is needed to be a Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistant Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Dental Assistant?

Dental Assistant Work Experience

Where Dental Assistants Are Employed

Dental Assistant Sectors

Other Jobs You May be Interested In

Those thinking about becoming Dental Assistants might also be interested in the following careers:

  • Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians
  • Respiratory Therapists

Career changers with experience as a Dental Assistant sometimes find work in one of the following fields:

  • Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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