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So you want to work as a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistants work closely with the dentist throughout all of the stages of a patient’s treatment. They can expect to receive the patient and prepare them for treatment, sterilise and prepare instruments for the dentist, mix materials, develop x-rays and provide chairside assistance by using suction apparatus and passing instruments to the dentist as required.

Dental assistants may also be required to assist with the administration of the practice by making appointments, answering the phone, ordering supplies, maintaining records, collecting payments etc. While most assistants work in private practices and clinics, some can work in larger hospitals or with healthcare organisations. It is also possible to undertake further study and become a dental hygienist or therapist. Dental Assistants wear protective clothing, safety glasses, gloves and surgical masks to protect themselves and patients from infectious diseases. Employment for dental assistants is expected to grow 25% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This is due to the ageing of the baby-boom population and ongoing research which links oral and general health. People are also keeping more of their teeth than they did in previous generations which further increases the need for more dental practices.

Types of jobs in the Dental Assistant industry include:

  • Dental Technician
  • Dental Laboratory Assistant
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Dental Therapist

Personal Skills

Five key skills that will help you score a job in the Dental Assistant industry:

  • Good manual dexterity
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills
  • The ability to concentrate and follow instructions
  • Good organisational ability and time management skills
  • An interest in health care work

Interview and Job Hunting tips

  • Dental assistants are generally caring and cheerful people so make sure you smile a lot, it will come through even if it’s just an over the phone interview. Try to remain pleasant and positive.
  • It is always helpful to say that you are flexible and can come in early or stay back if the dentist needs you to. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the position.
  • Be prepared to talk about your dental training and how you can provide value to the dental team.
  • Ask about what specific qualities they are looking for and then tell them about how you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.
  • Show your interest by asking relevant questions about the practice. This can include how they would describe the practice philosophy or how many patients they treat in a day.