Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Dental Office Assistant

Written by Madison School of Healthcare On Wednesday, 21 December 2016. Posted in Healthcare Insights

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Healthcare professionals are in high demand today, and that includes dental office assistants. More and more people are seeking preventative dental care, which means dental offices’ business is growing, and the need for quality support staff is more important than ever.

Looking to join this promising occupation? Here’s what you need to know about becoming a dental office assistant.

Dental Care Demand is on the Rise

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for dental office assistants is projected to grow nearly 19 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth will result in 14,800 new positions for a total of 94,400 jobs.

This is largely due to the rise in demand for preventative dental care. Ongoing research has linked oral health and general health—healthcare professionals now know that complications from poor dental health can affect individuals with several health conditions, including heart disease. Likewise, many chronic health conditions like diabetes can have detrimental effects on dental health.  

To provide the best possible care, dental offices are hiring more dental assistants to handle day-to-day clerical duties so dentists and dental hygienists can spend as much time as possible caring for patients.

Dental Office Assistants Help Run the Show

Almost all dental assistants work in dentist’s offices, working under the supervision of dentists and dental hygienists. They help keep the office in order and everything running smoothly for patients and their coworkers alike. Responsibilities typically include:

  • Preparing work areas for treatments and procedures
  • Making sure patients are comfortable
  • Keeping patient records
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Handling billing and payment transactions

The Job Requires Certain Soft Skills

Professionals who hone their soft skills are more likely to thrive in a healthcare environment. Successful dental office assistants tend to be: 

  • Personable – Dental office assistants are first people patients interact with when they walk in the door or make a call to the office, making interpersonal skills a must. Dental office assistants constantly interact with others, from working with dentists and other team members, to scheduling appointments and assisting patients. Working with patients also means sometimes dealing with difficult individuals, such as a patient who is nervous about a procedure. The ability to communicate clearly and show empathy is paramount.
  • Meticulous – Filling out forms, handling billing, and other essential duties of dental office assistants require the ability to focus on accuracy. Because they work in a healthcare environment, dental office assistants also are required follow specific rules and protocols. Those with an eye for detail and a knack for remembering key information are likely to be successful in this role.
  • Organized – Dental office assistants are responsible for keeping records in order, setting up work spaces, and occasionally assisting dental hygienists and dentists. These tasks require a person who knows how to keep everything in its place and follow a system.

Interested in starting a new career? Learn more about dental office assistant training.

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About the Author

Madison School of Healthcare

Our community comes first – explore our student- and alumni-contributed content to get the inside look at online learning, healthcare careers, and beyond. We share real perspectives from healthcare students, professionals, and industry experts to keep you up to date on the healthcare space and set you up for success in your career.