​​When you go to the dentist, you’ll likely find a whole staff full of helpful individuals that assist with all of your dental health needs. While most people are familiar with the dentist, fewer people know what the other staff members are called. These men and women are referred to as dental assistants, and it’s their job to assist the dentist with any necessary oral health treatments.

Throughout an average day, these dental assistants may give fluoride treatments, perform x-rays, polish teeth, take dental impressions, and even finish restorations. All of this work is performed under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. Most dental assistants will work directly with patients and behind the scenes to ensure a smooth visit from scheduling to aftercare instructions.

Where Do Dental Assistants Typically Work?

The most common place that you’ll find dental assistants is at a dental office. However, that is just one of a number of workplace settings where these dental assistants may take employment. Some other common workplace locations include:
  • Hospitals
  • Dental Suppliers
  • Insurance Companies
  • Educational Institutions
  • Public Health Facilities
  • Armed Services
  • Dental Manufacturing Companies
  • Group Practices
As a dental assistant, you may start your career by gaining experience at a typical dental office. Then, you may move over to another workplace location, like a group practice or public health facility, where you can further develop your skills in a dental specialty field. This is a versatile job field that will allow for lifelong success and job growth, if you so choose.

What Dental Assistants Get Paid the Most?

The average salary of a dental assistant is going to vary widely depending on numerous factors. Some of these crucial factors include the company they work for, their years of experience on the job, their field of dental specialty, and so forth. If you’re looking to make the most money possible as a dental assistant, then you need to focus on a specialty dental career field. Dental assistants who work at specialty dental clinics and offices typically receive a higher wage than those who work at general dentistry practices. This is because as the dentistry field is broken down into smaller specialties, the applicant pool of available dental assistants with background training in a particular specialty is going to drop significantly. You’re going to have to compete with more general dental assistants for jobs at dental offices than specialty dental assistants for jobs at specialty offices.

Expanded Specialty Options

While working at a dental office is widely popular for those with dental assistant training, it’s not the only workplace where one can have a career at. There are many dental specialties that require skilled dental assistants. Typically, those who seek out dental assisting at a specialty dental practice will receive a higher pay rate than those who opt to work at a general dentistry office.

Orthodontist Assistant

One very popular dental specialty for dental assistants is the orthodontist field. These high-trained dentists focus on correcting teeth and jaw misalignments. As an orthodontic dental assistant, you’ll get to work with a variety of patients with different misalignment issues. Some popular job duties include the following:

  • Make adjustments for orthodontic gear.
  • Sterilize instruments and prepare orthodontic tools for procedures.
  • Take x-rays, molds, casts, and photos to help diagnose patient issues.
  • Perform clerical tasks like updating patient records and scheduling appointments.
  • Assist during planned and emergency procedures.

Endodontic Assistant

The endodontic field specializes in diagnosing problems and performing procedures on the inside of the teeth. They’re essentially experts in saving people’s teeth. As an endodontic assistant, you’ll get to see some of the worse dental cases and assist the endodontist in helping to save these patients’ teeth. Some of your typical job duties will include the following:

  • Prepare patients for procedures via exams and x-rays.
  • Perform sterilization of the dental equipment before procedures and exams.
  • Organize dental records and schedule appointments.
  • Pass the appropriate tools to the endodontist during procedures.

Periodontal Assistant

The periodontal dental field is all about maintaining the structures that support your teeth, including the tissues, gums, and bones. Alongside the periodontist, you’ll get to assist with treating tissue issues like bone loss, gum disease, and even gum recession. Some of the common tasks you can expect to perform when you’re a periodontal assistant include the following:

  • Gather data and keep records about patients.
  • Sterilize instruments and sanitize the workspace.
  • Administer instructions on post-procedure care.
  • Hand the periodontist the appropriate tools during procedures.

Pediatric Dental Assistant

Pediatric dentistry deals with the oral health and care of children ranging from early infancy up through their teenage years. As a pediatric dental assistant, you’ll be able to assist children in learning good oral health habits. There are various duties that a typical pediatric dental assistant can expect to perform each day, which include the following:

  • Sterilize dental instruments for exams and procedures.
  • Take patient x-rays and prepare them for treatment.
  • Hand off the right dental instruments to the pediatric dentist during procedures.
  • Provide patients and parents with instructional aftercare.

Surgical Dental Assistant

When patients need to have their teeth and gums operated on, they will typically see a surgical dentist. As a surgical dental assistant, you’ll get to work alongside the dental surgeon on varying surgeries each day of the workweek. Some of the most common tasks that you’ll likely perform throughout your day include the following:

  • Prepare patients for dental procedures.
  • Perform x-ray processing.
  • Transfer instruments to the surgeon during the procedure.
  • Use suction and other equipment to assist the dentist with better visibility.
  • Explain post-surgery care instructions.

Why and How to Become a Dental Assistant

Future Outlook

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dental assistant field will see a projected growth rate of 8% from 2021 through 2031. This is a much higher employment rate than most other occupations today. These job openings are projected to be the result of retiring dental assistants and those who opt to move into a more specialized dental career field. Those who choose to undergo a dental assisting program can expect to find qualified employment fairly easily and quickly.

Why Dental Assisting in Vancouver, Washington

Being a dental assistant is a great way to help rapidly create a versatile career from scratch. From general dentistry to specialty practices, you have the power to choose which dental assisting program is going to be the ideal foundation to start your dentistry career in Washington. Most dental assistants love that they’re able to help their patients live happier, healthier, and more confident lives. Coupled with an above average pay rate and expected job growth opportunities over the next decade, deciding to become a dental assistant can be one of the best moves you make in your lifetime.

Washington Requirements for Dental Assistants

In the great state of Washington, a dental assistant job can be obtained after attending a state-mandated HIV/AIDs class. However, most dental offices and specialty practices prefer to hire dental assistants who have undergone prior training at an accredited dental assisting program. Most dental programs last anywhere between 5 and 15 weeks, depending on the school that you choose and any specialty classes that you take. Expect the addition of specialty classes to extend the initial educational timeframe for becoming a dental assistant.

Is a Dental Assisting Career Right for You?

With the demand for dental assistants continually growing each year, it’s no wonder that many trade schools are offering dental assisting programs. These programs are specifically tailored to help train dental assistants on all the aspects of a dental assistant job to ensure that they’re properly prepared to assist patients and dentists alike. All programs will start out with an introduction to basic dentistry and terminology. It’s imperative that dental assistants are capable of talking to dentists fluently throughout examinations and procedures. A review of basic job duties and dental assisting theory are also common program topics that help to formulate a basic understanding of what a dental assistant will do. Those who endeavor down the career path of a dental assistant have a strong interest in the areas of human health and science. They work well as a member of a valued team and have excellent communication skills. Dental assistants possess a general concern for others and are great at solving a variety of problems. They will have great manual dexterity and a willingness to continue learning as new technology and equipment become available in their chosen career field.

What Does Vancouver Dental Assisting School Offer?

Vancouver Dental Assisting School is a trade school that offers 10-week accelerated dental assisting programs in Vancouver, Washington. We are an accredited trade school as well as a certified and licensed post-secondary educational institution.

We offer in-person programs as well as online instructor-led programs, and we are the only school in Washington and Oregon that gives students the choice to choose between in-person programs or online programs. Our classes can accommodate up to 15 students.

Our facility is in a modern dental office. It is close to public transport and offers plenty parking spaces to both our students and staff.

In-Person Programs

When you apply for the dental assisting in-person program, you will attend lectures in the classroom on our upper floor. Clinicals will be in one of the fully equipped five patient rooms. There are 10 courses, which are listed below. In addition to these courses, AIDs/HIV and CPR training will be included in your coursework.

  • Course #1: Introduction to Dentistry and Dental
  • Course #2: Basic Dental Assisting Theory – Part 1
  • Course #3: Basic Dental Assisting Theory – Part 2
  • Course #4: Assisting for Operative Dentistry
  • Course #5: Radiology – Part 1
  • Course #6: Radiology – Part 2
  • Course #7: Assisting for Prosthodontics
  • Course #8: Dental Specialties
  • Course #9: Cosmetic Dentistry – Introduction to Administrative Techniques
  • Course #10: Administrative Techniques (cont.), Interview Techniques, CPR Certification, and Graduation

To graduate from the 10-week dental assisting program, you must pass a written exam and a clinical. You must also complete 100 hours of clinical externship hours.  The class is one day a week, from 9 am-5 pm each day. Lectures are in the morning, and clinical training is in the afternoon, after lunch.  

 Online Programs

If you choose the dental assisting online program, you will have the same courses as the in-person program. These are:

  • Course #1: Introduction to Dentistry and Dental
  • Course #2: Basic Dental Assisting Theory – Part 1
  • Course #3: Basic Dental Assisting Theory – Part 2
  • Course #4: Assisting for Operative Dentistry
  • Course #5: Radiology – Part 1
  • Course #6: Radiology – Part 2
  • Course #7: Assisting for Prosthodontics
  • Course #8: Dental Specialties
  • Course #9: Cosmetic Dentistry – Introduction to Administrative Techniques
  • Course #10: Administrative Techniques (cont.), Interview Techniques, CPR Certification, and Graduation

Like the in-person program, the AIDs/HIV and CPR training will be included in your coursework. However, these courses will all be offered online.

The online program lets students learn from home on either Sundays or Wednesdays. In addition to the online instructor-led lectures, you can choose in-person or virtual labs. The tuition cost is $2,295 for the 10-week program. Register a class for only $99.

Become a Dental Assistant in Vancouver, Washington

If you’ve been considering a career as a dental assistant in Vancouver, WA or Portland, OR, there’s no better time than now to get started. Come join our top-rated dental assisting program that has helped thousands of students in launching their dental careers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Simply give us a call today, and we’ll be more than happy to assist you in starting your new education journey. Ready to jump-start right away? Register for a class below!

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