An education in dental assisting will prepare you for a career as a registered dental assistant (RDA). As a registered dental assistant, you will work as part of a dental health team with dentists and other professionals to assist in diagnostic, operative, surgical, and preventative procedures.
Registered Dental Assistants differ from non-registered personnel in that they are permitted by law to perform additional intraoral procedures. This additional list of duties typically translates into a higher rate of pay than non-registered personnel.
- Assist with surgical and restorative procedures by removing excess cement from tooth surfaces and polishing specific teeth prior to procedures that require acid etching
- Apply fluorides, sealants, and teeth-whitening solutions; polish sealants
- Inspect and chart the oral cavity
- Replace temporary restorations, crowns, and bridges
- Remove orthodontic elastics, ligatures, and separators
- Size temporary crowns and bands
- Make impressions for orthodontic appliances, mouth guards, bite split, and bleaching trays
- Remove sutures
- Place and remove periodontal dressings
As a dental assistant, you can expect to work in private dental practices and dental clinics, at public health agencies and in hospitals. These positions can be full- or part-time depending on your employer. You will most likely work a standard Monday through Friday work week during normal daytime business hours since most private practices are not open on weekends, evenings or holidays. However, some practices do offer limited evening and weekend hours to accommodate increasingly busy patient schedules.
According to the Department of Labor, there is a very high demand for dental assistants. Nationally it is estimated that there will be a 31 percent increase in dental assisting job opportunities by 2020. In Michigan, job opportunities are expected to grow by 23 percent by 2018. Job prospects are expected to remain very good due to population growth and greater retention of natural teeth.