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Dental Assistant

Dental assistants help dentists and dental hygienists in the delivery and maintenance of oral health care. They perform a wide range of tasks requiring technical as well as people skills. Some of their duties include helping patients feel comfortable during examinations and procedures, taking and processing dental X-rays, sterilizing and disinfecting instruments, recording patients' medical history, assisting in the construction of dentures and models of the teeth and mouth, and providing patients with oral care instructions following certain dental procedures. They may also be called upon to assist in the daily operation and management of the office by answering the phone, collecting fees for services, and maintaining a computerized inventory system. Dental assistants need to be outgoing and cheerful because they are usually the patient's first impression of the dentist office. Another important aspect of dental assisting is aiding the dentist during oral surgery, which requires that an individual be able to anticipate the dentist's needs and sit still and remain alert for several hours through longer procedures. Dental assistants are key members of the dental care team and greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of quality oral health care.

Work Environment:

Dental assistants work under the supervision of a board-certified dentist. They usually work in dental offices, public health clinics, hospital dental clinics, health maintenance organizations, dental schools, nursing homes, insurance companies (claims), government agencies, the armed forces, and dental product sales.

High School Preparation:

Students interested in becoming a dental assistant should take high school courses in biology, algebra, chemistry, English, geometry, dental/medical assisting, computer skills, health occupations/medical professions education, physical education, typing, and office procedures.

College Requirements:

Individuals interested in dental assisting should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Programs offered at community colleges accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation usually take 12 to 24 months to complete. An individual wishing to become certified may take an examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc., which will result in the designation of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). This will assure the public that the dental assistant is prepared to assist completely in the provision of dental care. Students interested in dental assisting should contact schools for information on admission and course of study.

For educational institutions in Mississippi
offering this course of study click here.

Career Outlook:

Employment opportunities for dental assistants should be very good. The US Department of Labor predicts that demand for dental assistants will grow by more than 36% through the end of the decade. This is a much faster growth than the average for all other occupations over the same period. The growing population and the increasing number of people who retain their teeth well into old age will fuel the demand for dental services. There will also be numerous job openings caused by the need to replace assistants who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the profession for other reasons. There will continue to be many opportunities for entry-level assisting positions offering on-the-job training.



Average Annual Salary

Salary Range


Professional Organizations:

American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA)
35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1730
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: (312) 541-1550

National Association of Dental Assistants
900 St Washington St.,
Suite G-13
Falls Church, VA 22046
Phone: (703) 237-8616

Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB)
676 North St. Clair, Suite 180
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 642-3368

American Medical Technologists

10700 West

Higgins Road

Suite 150

Rosemont, IL 60018

Phone: (847) 823-5169

Fax: (847) 823-0458




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