Areas of Employment for Dental Assistants
A career as a Dental Assistant will open many doors of opportunity. Dental Assistants will be among the highest growing occupations from now until 2012. This is because people are starting to take a better interest in their oral health. Technological advances have led many individuals to the dentist office for cosmetic dental procedures rather than just cleanings and major dental work. Also, people are living longer, so their teeth need more care to stay healthy throughout their life.
The most common place of employment to find Dental Assistants is in the dental office. Here they provide a variety of services. They often help to comfort scared patients prior to procedures as well as give them follow up care at the end of the appointment. Dental Assistants clean the tools used as well as make sure each work unit has the necessary tools and equipment ready for the next patient’s procedures.
Dental Assistants in the dental office work very closely with Dentists and Hygienists. They often sit in on all procedures, handing staff the necessary tools. Dentist offices are generally small so Dental Assistants often help with lab work. This includes making molds of teeth for caps, bridges, and other dental work. They may also be required to assist with the taking of X-rays.
A common place for Dental Assistants to be employed is in prisons. With more and more prisons being built all over the Nation, Dental Assistants are in great demand for Federal, State, and privately owned prisons. Working as a dental assistant in a prison setting requires more caution that in a regular dental office.
All Nursing Assistants need to be aware of the risk of communicable diseases that are transmitted via saliva and blood. However, the rate of these diseases, especially HIV, is much higher with a prison population than the general public. Also, some inmates might try to attack by biting.
Nursing Assistants in a prison setting need to be alert, and never let down their guard. Inmates often look for any opportunity to escape or obtain weapons. They can use a dental tool as a weapon against you, other staff, or other inmates. It is very important that you keep very close track of all dental tools in a prison setting. Never leave a tool in the reach of an inmate for even a moment. If you discover a tool is missing, immediately notify your supervisor and follow the procedures outlined in the prison policy.
For those Dental Assistants wanting to help the lower income populations, securing employment in a Child Development Center, Head Start, or Migrant program is an excellent way of giving back to the community. Often, these populations can’t afford dental care and would go without it if the services weren’t offered as part of a government program. Employment in these types of agencies as a Dental Assistant often pays less than other employment opportunities in the field. However, many Dental Assistants make the choice to help those in need rather than earn more money.
There are many opportunities to work as a Dental Assistant for agencies who serve the disabled. Often, Dental Assistants are afraid to work with such a population. However, once you feel comfortable with disabled people and their disabilities, you will be able to provide proper care to those who are in need, regardless of their mental capacity or physical appearance.
A career as a Dental Assistant offers you many areas of employment including dental offices, prisons, low income programs, and for facilities who serve the disabled. The ability to choose the type of environment you want to use your Dental Assistant skills in makes the field even more inviting. If you are not sure if a particular type of agency is a good fit for you, talk to them. Ask if you can shadow another Dental Assistant who works there for a few days. This should give you plenty of exposure to the activities that take place in that agency.