Working as a dental assistant can provide the opportunity to interact with patients and staff and can include both administrative work and patient care under supervision of a dentist. A combination of these duties may be referred to as expanded functions. A dental assistant training program that includes expanded functions from an accredited healthcare school can provide training to obtain this expanded skillset to qualify you to enter the industry.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an 18% increase in dental assistant jobs between 2014 and 2024. This is a positive job outlook for new graduates. The average salary for a dental assistant is 35,980 per year
$17.30 per hour.
What is a Dental Assistant?
A dental assistant with expanded functions plays an important role in a dentist’s office. They help dentists and hygienists to prepare patients for treatment and to prepare the work area for the hygienist. They can also help with front office work including record keeping and patient billing. There can be laboratory work in this role, performed under the direction of a dentist. Lab work may include the creation of temporary crowns and the preparation of materials to make casts of patients’ teeth. A dental assistant with expanded functions may work with patients to apply fluoride treatments or take impressions of patients’ teeth.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
A dental assistant with expanded functions can help with many dental practice activities. During a typical day at work, they might:
- Confirm Appointments – Call patients to remind them of upcoming dental visits.
- Schedule Follow-Up Appointments – Work with patients to schedule future dental appointments.
- Submit Insurance Claims – Ensure patients only pay for services that aren’t covered by their insurance and collect co-pays or payments due.
- Obtain Medical Histories – Collect personal information that may affect treatment such as patient allergies or medical conditions.
- Process X-Rays – A dental assistant can process X-Ray images for the dentist to view and analyze.
- Sterilize and Set-Up Instruments – A dental assistant can ensure that tools are clean and set up properly for use.
- Communicate with Patients – Dental assistants prepare patients for an exam and communicate dental hygiene instructions.
States have different regulations and educational requirements for dental assistants, so the duties may vary depending on where the practice is located.
If you’re looking for a dental assistant school in Florida, Ultimate Medical Academy is an accredited healthcare school offering a Dental Assistant with Expanded Functions program in Clearwater and Tampa. You can choose between a diploma program that can be completed in less than a year, or an associate degree that may be completed in two years. The curriculum includes education in expanded office functions and covers topics to prepare you to pursue an entry-level career as a dental assistant. Through UMA’s Dental Assistant with Expanded Functions program, you can receive a combination of classroom, laboratory and hands-on learning. A 240-hour externship in a dentist’s office provides you with relevant experience working alongside a dentist and with actual patients. UMA offers students job search assistance and career fairs on campus, as well as assistance with resume writing and practicing interview skills.
Originally posted: February 12, 2016
Last updated: January 9, 2017