Becoming a dentist doesn't appeal to some people because it takes nearly as long to become a dentist as it takes to become a doctor. However, don't discount the entire dental career field if you're not willing to do the work to become a full dentist. The health care field is one of the best as far as jobs and job futures are concerned, so why not consider a subsidiary dental profession, such as becoming a dental assistant? This article will introduce you to what you can expect as a prospective dental assistant.
Dental assistants are the bottom of the dental totem pole in most cases. Dental hygienists are a step up, and dentists themselves are at the top. Receptionists and office staff operate to the side of this hierarchy. Therefore dental assistants are paid the least of all the dental professions, but because of their specialized training still do rather well compared to people with similar training times in other career fields, such as office managing or child care, with average wages ranging between $12 and $23 per hour depending on where you live.
As a dental assistant, you will act as the extra hands for the dentist you are assisting and take over the more menial tasks for the dentist can focus on accomplishing more complex tasks like putting in dental veneers. You will be responsible for sterilizing the instruments and passing them to the dentist during procedures, putting the instruments away after the procedure, preparing the patient, and taking dental x-rays and mouth molds as the first step in preparing a dental record.
To become a dental assistant, you must do post secondary training at a career institute and receive a graduation certificate. This is far less than a dentist in terms of education, is expected to do, as a dentist requires a four year university degree. Programs take between ten months and one year, and include both classroom and practical chair-side learning to develop important dental skills. Some schools in Canada that offer dental assisting programs include the University of Fraser Valley and CDI College.
Once you have completed your training, you will need to be certified by the National Dental Assistant Examining Board, which is affiliated with the Canadian Dental Assistants' Association. Dental assistants who want to work will have to take the additional step of getting certified with the Ontario Dental Assistants' Association.