A Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant

by Marianne Stenger
Posted: March 20, 2020

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With varied job duties and good earning potential, dental assisting can be a rewarding career choice. Both the job outlook and career advancement opportunities for dental assistants are excellent, and the number of people working as dental assistants in Australia is expected to increase in coming years. 

So if you’ve been thinking of pursuing a career in this area, this dental assistant guide will give you an insight into everything from the working hours and salary to the daily routine of a dental assistant or dental nurse.

What is the job outlook for dental assistants?

The number people working as dental assistants has grown strongly over the last five years and is expected to continue to grow, with an anticipated 16,000 job openings over the next five years.

Dental assistants work in many regions of Australia, and the majority of people (65.7%) working in this area have a Cert III or higher. On average, a dental assistant salary is between AU$29,000 and AU$60,000, depending on a person’s level of education and experience as well as their location.

Dental assistant work hours vary, but on average, dental assistants work 36.3 hours per week. Although the majority of dental practices operate from 8 am to 5 pm, dental assistants may also be required to work weekends or evenings to assist with dental procedures or provide administrative support.  

What does a typical day look like for a dental assistant?

The dental assistant work environment is quite varied and a typical day in the life of a dental assistant may involve everything from dealing with patient inquiries to sterilising instruments, prepping patients for procedures, and assisting with X-rays and laboratory tests.

A dental assistant’s day may begin with routine tasks such as reviewing the day’s patient schedule, organising the necessary paperwork, and preparing the treatment room. They’ll also be involved in welcoming patients, getting them settled in for treatment, and making sure they feel at ease.

During patient examinations or procedures, the dental assistant will remain on hand to assist the dentist or dental hygienist by handing off the right instruments, using a suction hose to keep the patient’s mouth dry, or anything else the dentist may need.

After a procedure or examination has been completed, dental assistants may also assist by providing patients with instructions on how to maintain healthy teeth, answer specific questions they may have, take payments, and help them schedule their next appointment.

Is a career in dental assisting right for you?

If you are detail-oriented, have strong interpersonal skills, and working in a hands-on environment appeals to you, then a career as a dental assistant could be an excellent choice. The ability to stay calm and put people at ease is also important in this profession, since many people tend to feel uneasy about visiting the dentist.

In order to increase your job prospects as an entry-level dental assistant, completing a HLT35015 Certificate III in Dental Assisting is recommended. After taking this course, you will have a firm grasp on all the essentials of dental assisting, from maintaining and storing instruments, medications and client records to communicating effectively with dental professionals and patients.

Ready to take the next step towards becoming a qualified dental assistant? Get in touch with us today to receive your free course guide and a consultation with one of the experienced education advisors at Open Colleges.

 

Marianne Stenger

Marianne Stenger

Marianne Stenger is a London-based freelance writer and journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. She’s particularly interested in the psychology of learning and how technology is changing the way we learn. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central. Follow her on Twitter @MarianneStenger.

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