Because they are vital to the smooth operation of a dentist’s office, dental assistants enjoy a very positive work environment. They are generally respected among those with whom they work, their jobs are diverse and engaging, surroundings are clean and professional, and they have the benefit of a regular schedule. For many dental assistants, the working conditions are the best part of the job. Very few professions provide such a great environment with so little training.
Dental assistants work closely with dentists. They spend most of their time in the chair next to the doctor, helping to provide patient care. As a result, it is essential that these professionals have a positive rapport with the dentist. The majority of dentists realize that they could not do their jobs without their assistants, so they generally behave with appreciation and respect towards the dental assistants. In fact, there is even a week at the beginning of March dedicated to the recognition of dental assistants. During this week, called National Dental Assistants Appreciation Week, many dentists treat their assistants to lunch or bring them gifts.
A typical work day for a dental assistant involves a wide variety of tasks, which often include patient care duties such as educating, easing fears and ensuring that the patient is comfortable in the chair. However, these are not the only things assistants do. They also aid the dentist with every procedure, whether it be a simple checkup or a complicated surgery. Most dental assistants apply suction to patients’ mouths, prepare instruments and take x-rays. Additionally, they may complete office and lab assignments like billing, record keeping, creating molds and developing x-rays. In some states, dental assistants can even apply sealant and fluoride or administer anesthetics. No two days as a dental assistant are exactly the same.
Besides performing a large assortment of duties, a dental assistant has a choice of many different types of offices in which to work. The majority of these professionals are employed by private practice dentists, but some work in hospitals, group practices and schools. Others find jobs with specialties such as orthodontics and periodontics, which may involve unique tasks such as constructing retainers and mixing bonding cement. Moreover, dental assistants sometimes work with public health entities, pediatric dentists, and clinics associated with dental schools. Many dentist’s aids even work in more than one office at a time. Since all types of dentists need assistants, a dental assistant often has the luxury of picking the work environment that suits him best.
Functioning as a dental assistant also involves regular hours and a reliable schedule. Dental assistants are usually in the office for forty hours a week, but hiring part-time aids is becoming an increasingly common practice as well. Some assistants work four ten-hour days, meaning that they have a full-time profession without having to toil for five days a week. While many dental assistants complete their jobs during regular work hours, some work in the evenings and on weekends as well. Either way, a dental assistant’s schedule is usually predictable enough to plan around.
Dental assistants work in clean, comfortable and well-lit environments. Offices are usually calm, quiet and pleasant. Because sterile surroundings are essential in a dental practice, dental assistants are required to wear masks, gloves, glasses and other protective clothing when working with patients. This may seem inconvenient for some people, but it protects the dental assistant as well as the client. Wearing uniforms is also common for dental aids, and many dentists provide their employees with an allowance for this purpose.
Finally, a dental assistant’s work environment includes several perks that are not part of the job itself. Full-time aids generally receive a complete benefits package, including dental care, a retirement plan and paid holidays. Since assistants can’t work without a dentist, they are allowed a vacation every time the doctor takes one, and it is usually paid. They also enjoy a certain amount of paid sick leave.
As you can see, the work environment of a dental assistant can be quite pleasant. Surprisingly, all of these benefits come with only a year of training or less. For these reasons and many others, dental assisting is the ideal career for an increasing number of people.