For dental assistants looking to take on a new challenge, pursuing a different specialty can be the natural next step in their career progression. If you’re interested in more complex procedures and want to learn advanced skills such as monitoring patients under nitrous oxide, becoming an oral surgery assistant may be right for you.
According to DANB’s most recent Dental Assistants Salary and Satisfaction report, about 4% of dental assistants work in oral surgery. Not sure if it’s the right career path for you? Consider some of the top benefits of being an oral surgery assistant below!
Oral surgery is considered an advanced specialty that requires additional education and licensing for dental assistants, such as CPR and basic life support training or certifications from Dental Anesthesia Assistant National Certification Examination (DAANCE) and the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). This makes it a logical step for a dental assistant looking to advance in their career.
“I love having the option to change specialties,” explains Audrey. “I was ready for more of a challenge, and oral surgery has fit that need very well. I’m still learning every day.”
Because the job requires extra training and credentials, oral surgery assistants often receive higher wages than those who work in general dentistry. According to DANB’s salary survey, dental assistants who work in oral surgery have a higher median hourly wage than any other specialty at $25.78 per hour.
Calming nervous patients
Even a minor surgery can be a scary, anxiety-inducing experience for many people. Dental assistants are highly skilled at building trust with patients and calming their nerves, whether it’s by educating them on the procedure, offering words of encouragement, telling a joke, or just lending an empathetic ear. These skills make dental assistants invaluable assets in oral surgery offices.
“Some people are terrified of not only the oral surgeon, but also going under anesthesia,” explains Haley. “To be able to make them trust me and the care I will give them is a great feeling.”
Karissa wholeheartedly agrees: “I love seeing patients who enter the office with fear and leave feeling like it wasn’t a big deal.”
Seeing smile transformations
Dental assistants are driven by a desire to help people. As an oral surgery assistant, you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on patients who are often dealing with severe dental issues, such as impacted or damaged teeth. Dental assistants who work in oral surgery can be a part of restoring smiles and relieving patients of pain. Oral surgery can be life-changing for patients, boosting their confidence and allowing them to chew, talk, and smile comfortably. Being a part of these transformations can be tremendously fulfilling for oral surgery assistants.
“There is nothing like the happy tears of a patient thanking you for giving them their smile back,” says Mollie.
It can be extra gratifying to see a patient gradually get their smile back after multiple procedures — sometimes over several years.
“It’s amazing to see a patient’s confidence spark as they begin to see the transformation of dental work being done to restore their smile,” says Angel.
Read more: 4 joys of being a pediatric dental assistant