Explore the World of Dentistry

A career as a Dental Assistant will offer you insight and first hand experience in the areas of Dentistry. Dental Assistants work very closely with both dentists and hygienists to offer quality care to all patients. The duties you will perform as a Dental Assistant will vary depending on the dental office you work for. It will also depend on if the dentist office is general dentistry or a specialized area of care.

Dental Assistants need to be detail oriented as well as patient and alert. They may have to sit for hours while a procedure is being completed or jump into the situation in an instant if an emergency occurs while the procedure is being conducted.

Typical tasks Dental Assistants need to perform include sterilizing instruments and preparing instrument trays for procedures. They also work closely with patients, taking dental and health histories. Depending on the procedures, vital signs of patients may be monitored by a Dental Assistant. They also help document patient records, take X-Rays, and give patients information on follow up care. In some offices they also make impressions of teeth to assist with making casts for caps, crowns, and dentures.

Dental Assistants often work right along side the dentist and hygienist. Starting with making patients feel comfortable and prepping them for procedures. Assistants hand the dentist and hygienist instruments and materials, allowing them to remain focused on the patient throughout the procedure. It is the job of the Dental Assistant to make sure the work station has all the necessary equipment and tools to complete each procedure to prevent delays and feelings of anxiety in patients.

In a crunch, Dental Assistants may be asked to assist with office duties including answering the phone, reminding patients of appointments, scheduling appointments, answering billing questions, and submitting insurance claims. It really depends on how your employer has the dental office operating.

Dental Assistants generally work with dentists and hygienists in a clean, friendly environment that is well lit. Since the work chair side to the dentist and hygienist, Dental Assistants learn many avenues of proper dental procedures. Many just might be able to do them as well as any dentist or hygienist, however, they are not allowed to because they are not certified.

Knowing this, many Dental Assistants choose to further their education in the medical field. They may decide to pursue being a Dental Hygienist or a Dentist. This will allow them to perform many of the procedures they have seen performed over and over again. Watching this process with make their educational endeavor much easier as they will already have seen so many aspects of the dental field in action.

Another reason Dental Assistants choose to further their career is the difference in pay. Generally, Dental Hygienists earn 80% more than a Dental Assistant. Over time, that amount of money definitely adds up to quite a large difference. Dentists of course make much more money that the Dental Assistant and Dental Hygienist combined.

A career as a Dental Assistant allows you the unique and rewarding opportunity to participate in the dental field on many levels. You will not only have many responsibilities, you will first hand be up close to assist Dental Hygienists and Dentists perform the many different procedures that take place in a dental setting. This ongoing training is the perfect learning tool to enable you to further your education with a solid foundation in the dental field to build on.

Complaints Against Dental Assistants

Most Dental Assistants work hard to ensure the best quality treatment available to all patients. However, there are those who don’t live up to the expectations of the patient. The patient has the right to address this issue with the dental facility. If they do not feel their complaint has been properly handled, they can then file a complaint with the State Dental Board.

State Dental Boards are responsible for regulating dental practices. They work hard to protect the public against improper behaviors by Dental Assistants, Dental Hygienists, and Dentists. They are to thoroughly investigate all complaints filed that involve competentcy. State Dental Boards do not handle complaints such as fee disputes, personality conflicts, rude behaviors, or difficulty with scheduling appointments in a timely manner. Such issues are to be referred to the Better Business Bureau.

It is important to file a complaint with the State Dental Board as soon as possible to allow then to be of the most help. Most states allow you to file your complaint online, over the phone, or you can request a form be sent to you in the mail. Some states will only accept a complaint in writing.

Dental Assistants need to be aware of the process that patients can go through if they have a complaint. Dental Assistants need to be cooperative during the investigation. If a Dental Assistant feels a patient may file a complaint, it is important to write down as much information as possible. This information needs to include the patient’s name, date, time, and what took place. Also document any verbal interactions and who all was present to observe the incident. This information will be very useful to you and to the State Dental Board.

The Dental Board works hard to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. However, it will not rush the efforts to investigate it properly. Some complaints are resolved in a matter of days while others linger for years. Once a complaint has been filed, a copy of it is sent to the dental facility for a response. Generally, the dental facility is given a specific time frame to have their response back to the State Dental Board.

Once the response is received and reviewed, the Dental Board will compare the information to that on the complaint. From there, a course of action will be mapped out. This generally involved conducting interviews of all parties present during the incident. A panel is set up to investigate if any dental laws were violated. If there appears to be a violation, a hearing will be scheduled. The Dental Assistant will be notified as well as required to show up for the hearing.

If the Dental Assistant is found to be in violation of dental laws, the Dental Board will issue a reprimand. This will depend on the state guidelines as well as the violation. Reprimands may include a letter of apology, suspension, probation, or even revocation of the Dental Assistant’s license. The Dental Board is not allowed to require monetary compensation. If the person filing the complaint want to be compensated in that manner, they will need to file a civil suit with their local judicial system.

Dental Assistants who find themselves in the middle of a complaint issue with the Dental Board are likely to experience anxiety and fear. Many dental facilities will provide the individual with counseling as well as legal consultation. In most cases, it will depend on the issue the Dental Board is investigating. If the dental facility backs the Dental Assistant they will do all they can. However, if they feel the Dental Assistant is in violation of dental regulations they may terminate the individual, leaving them to pay for their own defense.

It is the responsibility of the Dental Assistant to follow all policies and procedures correctly. If you have any doubt, take the time to have everything explained to you. Losing a complaint under the Dental Board can cost you your job, as well as your career. If you lose your license, you may find it difficult to obtain another job in the profession as a Dental Assistant. Making sure you follow policies and procedures will ensure that you have a good chance of winning such complaints upon a complete review and investigation by the Dental Board.

Dental Assistant Career Colleges

Now what you have decided to start looking into a career as a dental assistant you will want to consider your options for obtaining the education you need to go into your newly chosen field.

There are many options to consider when deciding to go into dental assisting as a career choice. Many city and state level colleges will offer programs to help you start as a dental assistant however one of the more popular methods for obtaining a dental assistant certification is through a vocational or career training school.

Some of the more popular dental training schools are Apollo College which can be found at www.ApolloCollege.edu, Concorde career colleges which can be found at www.Concorde.edu, and also another very popular school is Bryman college at www.Go2BrymanCollege.com

While you can expect to make good money as a dental assistant, some of the schooling to get you started will be an expense that you need to seriously consider and plan for.

During the research that we did when writing this article we found that on average dental assistant school vocational colleges ranged between $2500 and $6,000 to give you the certification that you need to get started right away. A few schools have all expenses included however others do have material fees of up to $2500 which will want to be considered when making your choice an educational institution.

A few schools such as American career colleges www.americancareer.info offer not only dental assistant educations but medical assistant, pharmaceutical, x-ray, and nursing educations all under one roof. One of these type schools might be a great choice for you if you’re not 100% sure that a career as a dental assistant is your final destination. By going to a college or career center that offers multiple medical field positions you will be putting yourself in a great position to see exactly what all of your options are when considering a career in the health industry.

A school such as this also would be a great place to continue your education after receiving your certification a dental assistant, to possibly move up to a dental hygiene position or even possibly continue your education in the future to become a dentist or possibly even an orthodontists.

Starting now and an industry that is growing as rapidly as the health care industry is in today’s world is a great way to insure you will have the skills necessary to maintain an excellent career in the health field.

With the skills you are about to learn as a dental assistant you’ll find jobs are not hard to find if you are skilled and professional at your newfound craft.

There’s a great sense of self-satisfaction to be had in knowing that you’re doing something that helps other people and improves the quality of life for many.

One area to consider if you like children is to specialize in dental practices that cater specifically to children. Specialized practices like this are a great way to carve yourself into a niche area of the market that is always guaranteed to be highly profitable and busy.

Working with children can be one of the most rewarding parts of a dental career and I highly recommend it as a specialty area for anyone considering a career in dentistry that also has a fondness of children.

So whether you’re deciding to go into dental assistant career college as just a stepping stone for a career as a dentist for orthodontist, or if working as a dental assistant is to be your final destination I want to say congratulations on your choice to look into the dental assistant field and may have much success in your endeavors.