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Where Can a Dental Assistant Career Take You?
Learn the Various Specialized Areas of a Dental Assistant
Although the dental assistant role is pretty standardized from office to office state requirements and dentist preferences may vary amongst offices. Dental assistants are responsible for assisting dentists as needed, maintaining patient records, educating patients on basic dental health, taking x-rays and prepping patients for exams and procedures in addition to ensuring cleanliness.
A dental assistant role is extremely important as it allows a dentist to soley focus on their patient's health. Every dentist needs great assistants to be successful.
Dental Assistant Specialties
In addition to traditional dental practices, dental assistants have the opportunity to work in specialty areas.
Oral surgery is the removal of teeth and correction of facial deformities. Oral surgery assistants typically document treatment by charting in patient records and provide diagnostic information with x-rays. Assistants also aid surgeons with anesthesia and IV sedation tasks, maintain patient's vital statistics and fluids during surgery.
Orthodontics specialize in treating crooked teeth by setting them in the right place. Orthodontists usually use braces to set the patient's teeth. Orthodontic assistants perform a variety of functions to assist the orthodontist and help the practice function efficiently. Responsibilities include preparing the patient for the orthodontist by taking x-rays and impressions, and performing preliminary examinations and documenting information.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in maintaining teeth through endodontic therapy which involves the pulp which is the soft inner tissue of the teeth. Root canal treatment is the primary procedure performed by endodontists. The role of an endodontic assistant closely resembles one of dental assistants assisting an endodontist with procedures within that specialty.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists often treat those with severe gum disease. Periodontal assistants aid the doctor during procedures and also prepare items by sterilizing tools and preparing dental trays.
Pediatric dentistry provides both primary and comprehensive preventive oral health care from infant to adolescence age. Pediatric dental assistants aid the dentist during procedures, take and develop X-rays along with teaching patients about oral health and the proper way to brush and floss. Tasks may also be specific to the care of children with responsibilities like applying dental sealants.
Dental Assistant Certification Requirements
The certification needed to practice specialty dental assisting varies by job title, and by state. While DANB certification is not required in the state of Wisconsin to be a practicing dental assistant, receiving your National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) or Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) will make you a more valuable employee.
Weekend Dental Assistant School prepares students for the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) certification exam and the CDA exam.
Dental Assisting Advancement
If you pursue a career in dental assisting, there are a number of opportunities beyond becoming a dental assistant. Many experienced dental assistants choose to become a dental hygienist or even a dental technician. Dental assistants may be promoted to account or office managers or patient service representatives. If you do pursue a career as a dental hygienist, your role will be expanded into duties like examining patient teeth and gums, making it a more hands-on position or even an upper management role.
Other career paths for dental assistants include:
- Insurance claims processing
- Dental product sales representative