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How to Get a Job as a Dental Assistant

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A dental assistant, working in a dentist's office, is an administrative job in which you will work with patients, perform laboratory duties and complete clerical tasks. The main part of this job is to clean and sterilize the instruments the dentist uses, lay out the instruments the dentist will need for each patient and obtain the dental records. When the dentists is going through the procedure, you will be standing there as well, handing him/her the instruments as needed and providing suction to clean saliva from the patient's mouth.

When you get a job as a dental assistant, you will also be involved in preparing the materials the dentist needs to make impressions. You may also have to take X-rays and process the film. In cases where the dentist has to perform surgery, you may have to remove the sutures when the patient returns for a check up. Before the dentist actually starts to work on fillings or extractions, you may be the one required to apply the topical solution to the gums before the dentists administers the needle. Some dental assistants are involved in the tooth cleaning process and in some states they do the tooth polishing.

The clerical duties you will have to perform in this job include the filing of dental records, making appointments sending out bills and processing payments as well as ordering and receiving the supplies needed. If you are qualified to work in a laboratory as a dental assistant, some of the tasks you will be responsible for include cleaning and polishing removable devices, making casts of the impressions, and making temporary crowns for patients. As part of your job, you will have to wear masks, gloves and protective wear so that you can protect yourself from any communicable or infectious diseases the patients may have. When you take X-Rays you will, also have to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from radiation.

To train as a dental assistant you must graduate from high school with courses in Biology and Chemistry. Then you must graduate from a dental assistant program at a technical or vocational college. As part of this program, you will have classroom work where you learn the terminology and theories, laboratory work and practical experience in a dentist’s office where you can apply what you learned. A one-year program will lead to a diploma, whereas an extra year will give you an associate’s degree in this field.

The duties that you will be allowed to perform are regulated by the state in which you work. In some states you must hold a license to work in this field, for which you must pass a state exam. Thirty states will accept the exam of the Dental Assisting National Board. There are also states that require you to have coursework in radiology before you can take dental X-Rays. You do need to further your education if you want to advance in this field. For example, you can take the courses leading to designation as a dental hygienist.
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