Learn About Being a Dental Assistant in 2024

By | February 28, 2024

What Does a Dental Assistant Do? – Do you know that a dental assistant helps you take care of your teeth and smile? Here’s a little refresher for you. A dental assistant helps you with everything from brushing your teeth to flossing your teeth. They also help with the installation of dental restorations, fillings, and crowns. So whether you need help with your teeth or just want to feel good about your smile, a dental assistant is the answer to your question!

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

If you’re looking for a career that offers something unique and interesting, dental assistant may be the perfect choice. Dental assistants help patients with various dental needs, including teeth cleanings, restorations, and more. They work at outpatient clinics and inpatient dentistry offices, and they can also provide helpful advice to patients about their dental care. In addition to their duties as dental assistants, dental assistants must have a valid driver’s license and a high school diploma or equivalent.


What is a dental assistant?

Dental assistants are people who work in the dental office. They help people with their oral care, braces, and other dental needs. They can also help you get your teeth fixed if they are broken.

What are the main duties of a Dental assistant?

What does a dental assistant do? – Dental assistants help people with their oral care. They can also help with other tasks, such as providing care for teeth, braces, and other dental needs. Dental assistants are essential for the safety and health of everyone who visits a dentist. They can also help you get your teeth fixed if they are broken.

Do you know that dental assistants help people with their oral care? They can also help with other tasks such as providing care for teeth, braces, and other dental needs. Dental assistants are essential for the safety and health of everyone who visits a dentist. They can also help you get your teeth fixed if they are broken. If you’re interested in becoming a dental assistant, there are many opportunities available to you.


Dental assistants are healthcare professionals who assist dentists in completing all dental-related tasks, including examining, cleaning and repairing teeth. A dental assistant may have the following responsibilities:

  • Check patients in, take a medical history and ensure they are comfortable before beginning the dental procedure

  • Assist with taking X-rays of teeth

  • Assist with dental procedures like fillings, extracting and making molds of teeth

  • Use dental tools to clean patient’s teeth

  • Check patients out and give them follow-up instructions

Do Dental Assistants get paid well?

Dental assistants typically earn a much lower wage than other professionals. However, there are many opportunities for you to make money as a dental assistant. There are many different types of jobs that require an associate degree in dental hygiene or an equivalent field. You can also find jobs that call for less experience, so you don’t have to give up your dream of becoming a dental assistant.

How much do dental assistants make?

Dental assistants make a median wage of $21.97 an hour. However, there are many different types of dental assistants, so the wage and salary you receive will depend on your qualifications, experience, and location.

Average salary

Although many dental assistants work in a full-time position, some may work part-time. The expected average salary of a dental assistant varies depending on geographical location, experience and certifications. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $21.97 per hour

  • Some salaries range from $7.25 to $33.15 per hour.

What skills do dental assistants need?

Dental assistants need a number of skills. They need to be able to read and understand dental charts, know how to fix teeth, and have experience in caring for teeth and braces. Additionally, dental assistants need to be able to handle a variety of different tasks. For example, they may need to be able to work with patients one-on-one, or they may need to work in a team setting.

Dental assistant requirements

There are a few educational and experience requirements to become a dental assistant, which include:


Dental assistants must have a high school diploma and complete a technical dental program before working with patients. The program may be offered at the certificate or associate’s degree level and will include coursework in anatomy, biology, chemistry and a supervised dental practicum. The practicum is an important part of the educational requirements, as it gives aspiring dental assistants direct experience in the dental industry.


Many dental assistants will receive the majority of their training in their technical degree program and practicum experience. During the practicum experience, you can expect to observe and interact with patients, learning about the different dental tools and how to properly use them. Once you complete your educational requirements, you may still receive on-the-job training working as an entry-level dental assistant.


Certifications are not usually a requirement to work as an entry-level dental assistant. However, dental assistants who want to work with specialized equipment or in a more experienced role may need certification. Certifications available in the dental assistant industry include:

National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA)

The NELDA certification is ideal for entry-level dental assistants who want to become certified right after completing their technical program. Interested candidates must successfully pass all three components of the exam, which include anatomy, morphology and physiology, infection control and radiation health and safety.

Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)

The CDA is available through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and is an ideal certification for dental assistants who want to be nationally certified. You are eligible for the certification once you complete an accredited program in dental assisting and have a minimum of two years of experience in a dental assistant role.

Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) Certification

The COA certification is a good choice for dental assistants who want to work in an orthodontics office. To earn the certification, you will need to complete a two-year program, earn the CDA certification and then successfully pass the COA exam.

Certified Preventative Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)

The CPFDA certification is ideal for dental assistants who want to complete preventative tasks on their own, such as dental cleanings and fillings. The exam covers topics in polishing, sealants, topical anesthetics and topical fluorides. There are no prerequisites, but interested candidates must successfully pass the exam.


Some soft and hard skills will assist a dental assistant in their role, including:

  • Communication: Both verbal and nonverbal communication skills are important as a dental assistant. The dental assistant will use verbal communication skills to learn about a patient’s medical history and to recommend dental treatments. The assistant may also use nonverbal cues to assist the dentist or to recognize patient discomfort.

  • Organization: It is the responsibility of the dental assistant to maintain and organize all dental equipment. Strong organizational skills will assist the dental assistant in ensuring that the dentist has all of the necessary tools to complete a dental procedure.

  • Dexterity: The ability to accurately and calmly work with the hands is crucial as a dental assistant. Assistants will often handle tools, either handing them to the dentist or using them to assist with dental tasks.

  • Reporting: The dental assistant is often the first contact the patient has, so reporting skills are important. It is the responsibility of the dental assistant to collect medical records and understand dental needs.  Strongly developed reporting skills are also important to record details in the medical file and inform the dentist of any dental concerns.

Dental assistant work environment

The typical work environment for a dental assistant is in a dental office, working closely with the dentist. Dental assistants can expect the following work environment characteristics:

  • Frequent use of dental tools and equipment

  • Regular contact and communication with patients

  • Majority of the workday spent sitting, evaluating the patient’s teeth and mouth

  • Exposure to radiation occasionally

Many dental assistants can expect a typical workday, but some may be expected to work evenings and weekends. Dental assistants can expect to work a similar schedule to the dentist. The day-to-day duties of the dental assistant will vary, depending on each patient and their healthcare needs, but the majority of tasks will include direct contact with patients.

How to become a dental assistant

Becoming a dental assistant requires that you complete certain educational and experience requirements. You can become a dental assistant with the following steps:

  1. Attend a dental assisting technical program: The first step toward becoming a dental assistant is to enroll and complete a dental assisting technical program. Make sure you choose an accredited program and take advantage of any practicum experiences that will allow you to begin developing important dental assistant skills.

  2. Apply for certification: Some aspiring dental assistants may choose to become certified before finding a job. Certifications can make you a more competitive candidate and demonstrate your dedication to the industry. Other assistants might choose to earn industry experience before applying for a dental certification.

  3. Prepare your resume: After completing all educational and certification requirements, it is time to prepare your resume for your upcoming job search. Include all relevant education and experience that relates to the dental assisting industry. Create a new cover letter with each application so you can highlight the specific experiences and skills that are required for that position.

  4. Apply for dental assistant positions: Carefully evaluate the job description of each open dental assistant position to understand its minimum education and certification requirements. Choose the positions that you are the most qualified for and use the interview to demonstrate why you are a good fit for the position.

Dental assistant job description example

Hollman Dental Clinic is looking for an entry-level dental assistant to join our private practice. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of two years of experience in a dental assisting role. Strong communication and dexterity skills are a requirement, as the candidate will work closely with the resident dentist, assisting them in each of their daily dental procedures. A technical certificate from an accredited college, as well as a National Entry Level Dental Assistant Certification, is required for this position. This opening is for a full-time position with some evening and weekend hours required.


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