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Dental Assistant

Dental assistants provide administrative and technical support to dentists through a variety of tasks. Some provide support to dentists during patient treatments, handing tools and equipment to the dentist during cleanings, examinations, and other dental procedures. Dental assistants may also perform more technical functions, such as taking and processing dental x rays and preparing materials for impressions and restorations. Administrative duties may involve maintaining patient records, taking appointments, ordering dental supplies, and billing patients.

Education and Training
You can obtain dental assistant training at many community colleges and technical and trade schools. Programs usually involve classroom instruction, lab work, as well as hands-on training in dental offices. Programs vary in length, from one year for a certificate to two years for an associate degree. Many states require that dental assistants be licensed or registered, which involves taking a written exam. Some states have developed specific standards related to dental assistants who perform special services, such as radiological procedures.

Job Outlook
The job outlook for dental assistants is strong: the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth in this field to reach as much as 35 percent by 2012. According to the BLS, a growing number of dentists are handing off more tasks to dental assistants, accounting for much of the growth in this field

Publish date: February 10, 2011