What does a Dental Assistant do?

A dental assistant helps the dentist deliver more effective dental treatment, and they are an integral part of the dental team. They are exposed to different and unique trainings that differentiate them from other dental aides through the types of roles they play and their interactions with patients.

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Working as a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants function as part of the dental team in the following ways:

  • Supporting the dentist during different treatment processes
  • Taking dental radiographs (x-rays) of patients
  • Inquiring about patients' medical history
  • Taking patients' pulse and blood pressure
  • Disinfecting dental tools and equipment
  • Assisting patients to help them feel relaxed before, during and after dental treatment or surgery
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How much does a Dental Assistant make in the United States?

82.5k salaries reported, updated at November 23, 2021
per hour

The average salary for a dental assistant is $19.11 per hour in the United States.

Most common benefits

  • Paid time off
  • Prescription drug insurance
  • 401(k)
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
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Where can a Dental Assistant earn more?

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Frequently asked questions

Common questions about being a Dental Assistant

How can a dental assistant become certified?

Dental assistants can become certified by clearing the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination. This exam is conducted by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

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What are the major differences between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist?

Dental assistants check-in the patient and prepare them for their appointment, while a dental hygienist will work with the patient by cleaning their teeth and checking the mouth for any dental hygiene issues.

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What is included in the certified dental exam that is taken by dental assistants?

Dental assistants take the Certified Dental Exam to become certified. The test contains multiple-choice questions in three categories: general chairside, infection control, and radiation health and safety.

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