Job Outlook and Employment Settings For Dental Assistants

What is the career outlook for Dental Assistants?

In 2008, there were about 295,300 dental assistants nationwide, and that number is expected to increase to 400,900 by the year 2018. This represents an approximate increase of 36% in the number of dental assistants employed in the United States. While we can see that there is an obvious growth trend, the real question is why? Why are dental assistants seeing such an increased demand for their services? To answer that, we need to look more closely at some of the statistics fueling the need for dental care in the U.S.

Studies have shown that periodontal disease has been recognized in 8.52% American adults, with 5.08% of these cases having

What Types of Facilities Employ Dental Assistants?

By completing formal dental assistant training, professionals in this career field will be qualified to practice in a variety of clinical environments. Different types of dental practices provide varied levels of services, and so the responsibilities of a dental assistant will vary depending on the type of dental facility they work in. Still, the in-depth training of dental assistants leaves them qualified for a wide range of career possibilities, including employment in:

  • Preventative and maintenance clinics – where dental assistants assist with cavity fillings, cleanings, dental checkups, x-rays, impressions, molds, fluoride treatments, flossing, administering sealants, and patient education.
  • Cosmetic and orthodontic clinics – where dental assistants are involved with teeth whitening, bracing and correction, inlays/onlays, composite bonding, whitening of teeth, dental implants, cosmetic assessments, and complete reconstructions.
  • Maxillofacial surgery centers – encompass most aspects of both preventative and cosmetic dental procedures. However, maxillofacial surgeons are licensed to use general anesthesia, so procedures requiring a patient to be put to sleep during surgery can only be done by a dental surgeon.
  • Emergency dental clinics – where dental assistants work by assisting patients with dental emergencies, such as traumatic injuries or tooth infection that has caused extreme pain and facial swelling.

How does the Dental Assistant's Role Change in these Facilities? The main role of the dental assistant is to support the dentist's needs during dental procedures, but the duties and responsibilities of the dental assistant are directly related to the type of facility they work in.

In a preventative dental facility, the dental assistant may spend his or her day:

  • Assessing the condition of a patient's teeth
  • Coordinating dental x-rays
  • Administering fluoride treatments
  • Educating patients about proper dental care and the importance of routine care

On the other hand, the duties of those with dental assistant careers in a cosmetic clinic may include assisting with dental implants and tooth extractions, or molding temporary inlays until permanents are received from a dental laboratory.

Dental assistants working in emergency clinics are going to see more traumatic injuries to the oral cavity. These patients may be accident victims or patients in such severe pain that they cannot wait for an appointment with their regular dental practitioner.

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