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Career Profile: Dental Assistants

Perform limited clinical duties under the direction of a dentist. Clinical duties may include equipment preparation and sterilization, preparing patients for treatment, assisting the dentist during treatment, and providing patients with instructions for oral healthcare procedures. May perform administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding information for insurance purposes.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 330,200 people employed as dental assistants in the United States. The median annual salary is $41,200. Entry level employees earn approximately $28,940 per year and senior employees earn approximately $58,390 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Prepare patient, sterilize or disinfect instruments, set up instrument trays, prepare materials, or assist dentist during dental procedures.
  • Record treatment information in patient records.
  • Assist dentist in management of medical or dental emergencies.
  • Order and monitor dental supplies and equipment inventory.
  • Expose dental diagnostic x-rays.
  • Provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentist.
  • Instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs.
  • Take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients.
  • Apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.
  • Schedule appointments, prepare bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer.
  • Make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts.
  • Pour, trim, and polish study casts.
  • Fabricate temporary restorations or custom impressions from preliminary impressions.
  • Clean and polish removable appliances.
  • Clean teeth, using dental instruments.
  • Fabricate and fit orthodontic appliances and materials for patients, such as retainers, wires, or bands.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
330,200
Annual Openings:
44,000
Increase in Openings by 2030:
11%
Annual Salary Range:
$28,940 - $58,390
Education Requirements:
Some college