Why dental assisting is more than just a job

paper that reads "It's not my job. It's my passion."

Do you ever feel that dental assisting is your calling? You’re not alone. According to DANB’s new Salary and Satisfaction Survey, 78% of dental assistants believe dental assisting is a career — not just a job.

Why are dental assistants so passionate about their careers? Here are a few of the reasons it’s a viable, worthwhile path.

It takes in-depth training and education.

Not just anyone can be a dental assistant. Just like dentists and hygienists, dental assistants are highly trained and educated to provide the best patient care. Each state has training and education requirements to hold certain job titles and perform specific duties in the dental office. View the requirements for your state to learn more.

While dental assisting doesn’t require a college degree, state credentials are often needed to hold more advanced job titles and perform expanded duties. Some dental assistants are trained on the job by their dentist, but many in the profession complete dental assisting educational programs offered by technical or vocational schools.

Read more: On-the-job training vs. dental assisting school

Additionally, many dental assistants seek out certification to expand their knowledge, perform more tasks around the office, and provide the best possible assistance to dentists and care to patients. DANB offers seven certifications for dental assistants; you can take our quiz to see which one is right for you. Moreover, dental assistants are required to complete continuing education to maintain certification and keep their knowledge up to date.

To put it simply: Dental assisting requires commitment and dedication!

It requires knowledge in a variety of areas.

Because dental assistants handle so many responsibilities, they need a wide range of knowledge and skills. From anatomy to radiography, infection control, instrument processing, and everything in between, dental assistants must master many areas to perform effectively in the role.

For expanded functions dental assistants (EFDAs), even more knowledge is required to perform additional duties. While the tasks an EFDA performs will depend on their state’s requirements, examples can include applying sealants, taking impressions, performing coronal polishing, and applying fluoride.

Dental assistants also must have excellent communication skills. Not only do they need to work seamlessly with the doctor and anticipate their needs during procedures, but they also have to know how to keep patients calm and answer questions.

It provides opportunities for advancement.

Dental assisting is far more than an entry-level role in dentistry. Many dental assistants have long, fulfilling careers that can last 30, 40, or even 50 years. But dental assisting can also serve as a stepping stone to other positions in the industry. Many dental assistants go on to become team leads, infection control coordinators, office managers, educators, hygienists, and dentists.

In DANB’s Salary and Satisfaction Survey, dental assistants expressed interest in pursuing a variety of career paths in the future. Lead dental assistant and expanded functions dental assistant were the most common responses (25%), with dental hygiene (20%) right behind.

Read more: How dental assisting can springboard your dental career