Learn more about dental assisting career information and education. Find information on dental assisting careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers as dental assistants.
Although dental professions are often thought of outside of the healthcare industry, professionals working in this field provide important expertise that is needed by the patient to ensure overall health. A toothache that occurs in the mouth has a systemic impact on the patient’s health. Thus, while you may not go to a doctor’s office for a toothache, dentists are medical doctors that are specifically trained to provide healthcare services for your mouth, teeth and gums. Other professionals working in the dental industry are not medical doctors; however, many of the services provided by these professionals are similar to those provided by medical technicians and nurses working in a doctor’s office.
Even though many of us may only visit the dentist when we have a toothache or other problem with our teeth or gums, dental professionals are also skilled at providing preventative services to help keep teeth and gums healthy. Regular visits to the dentist for check-ups can provide the patient with services to prevent cavities, gum disease and other oral problems. Some dental professionals specialize in orthodontia to cosmetically improve patient’s teeth and gums. The combined efforts of these professionals provides the patient with a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile.
Careers in dentistry are limited based on the specific area of specialization. Those interested in this field may choose to seek a career as a dentist. Individuals pursuing this career path will be required to acquire advanced education including a Bachelors Degree and a diploma from dental school. After completing their education, most states will require dentists to obtain a license. Students that attend dental school may choose to specialize in a specific area of dentistry. Examples include: orthodontia, oral surgery or oral pathology. Individuals interested in a career in the dental field that do not wish to spend eight or more years in post-secondary education can seek positions as dental hygienist, dental assistants or dental technicians. Dental hygienist work under the direct supervision of a dentist and are required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. Dental assistants and technicians work in dental offices providing support services for patient care, diagnostic imaging and laboratory testing.
Industry Salary Info
Salaries for professionals working in the dental filed vary based in the professional’s overall level of education and position. Dentists, because of the level of education required for the profession often command generous salaries. The median annual salary for dentists was $142,090 in 2009. Salaries for dentists specializing in a particular area of oral care may be higher. For instance, median annual salaries for oral surgeons were $178,440 in 2009. Salaries for other professionals working in the dental industry are also quite generous. Median annual salaries for dental hygienists were $67,340 in 2009. Dental assistants had median annual salaries of $33,230 in 2009 while dental technicians had median annual salaries of $34,820. Many of the jobs in the dental field are full-time positions that provide the employee with access to benefits such as health insurance, paid time off and vacation time. Professionals with advanced education and experience in the field will be able to command higher salaries.
The overall job outlook for careers in the dental field is expected to be about average through 2018. Many dentists provide service in private practice. However, this model of dentistry is changing through group practice through larger dental service companies. While more consolidation in the field of dentistry is expected, demand for dental professionals will need to keep pace with population growth. Additionally, demand for professionals in the field will be spurred by more organizations offering their employees dental insurance as a perk. Dental insurance is typically inexpensive to provide to employees. As companies work to find additional perks for new employees, more dental insurance plans will be offered. Increases in the number of individuals with dental insurance will increase demand for dental professionals in all areas of specialization. Dentists that are willing or able to start their own practice will have access to additional employment opportunities. Presently, one-third of all dentists practicing in the United States are self-employed.