Salary Data for Dental Assistants

Dental Assistants: The Backbone of the Dental Practice

Dental assistants perform front office duties, clinical tasks, and laboratory work in the dental practice. They serve as the backbone of the dental practice, working directly with patients and assisting dentists in various procedures. If you have an interest in dental health care, this may be the job for you.

Some examples of dental assistant duties include taking patient histories and vital signs, preparing patients for exams and procedures, sterilizing instruments, and providing patient education. Assistants also process x-rays, assist with anesthesia administration, and perform laboratory duties such as making impressions and preparing casts.

Education and Training

Becoming a dental assistant requires a combination of education and training. Most states require dental assistants to complete an accredited dental assisting program, which typically takes about one year to complete. The program includes classroom instruction and practical experience, including hands-on training in a dental clinic.

Certification is not required in every state, but it can improve employment opportunities. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers several certification options, including Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA). To be eligible for these certifications, you must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass an exam.

Progressing Through the Ranks

Dental assistants may advance in their careers by progressing through different levels of responsibility. Entry-level assistants work under the direct supervision of a dentist and primarily perform clerical and clinical duties. As assistants gain more experience and education, they may be given more responsibilities, such as preparing materials for dental procedures, managing inventory, and scheduling appointments.

More experienced assistants may become lead assistants, responsible for overseeing other assistants in the practice. In some cases, dental assistants may go on to become dental hygienists or dental office managers with additional education and training.

Entering the Field

If you are interested in becoming a dental assistant, there are several paths to pursue. Many dental assistants begin their careers with on-the-job training, learning the necessary skills from experienced dentists and assistants. This type of training is generally informal and may not provide a comprehensive education in dental assisting.

Another option is to enroll in a formal dental assisting program, which provides structured education and practical experience. These programs may be found at community colleges, technical schools, or vocational schools.

In summary, dental assistants are an essential part of the dental practice, performing a range of duties that help ensure patient comfort and satisfaction. With the right education and training, anyone can enter this rewarding career field and progress through various levels of responsibility over time.

Salary Data for Dental Assistants

Geography Level Full-time/Part-time Union Salary (Average) Salary Range (Minimum)
US National Average All Workers Full-time Non-union $45,510.40 $41,100.80
US National Average All Workers Part-time N/A $41,496.00 N/A
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN All Workers Full-time N/A $52,353.60 $44,075.20
West Virginia All Workers N/A Non-union $36,961.60 $31,865.60

Dental assistants in the US earn an average salary of $46,113.60 at Level 04. The salary range for this occupation is between $39,416.00 to $43,908.80.

The impact of unions on this job is not explicitly stated but the salary data show that non-union dental assistants have slightly lower average salaries compared to all dental assistants.