How to Hire a Dental Assistant

Does your growing business need a dental assistant? A dental assistant supports the dental department by preparing patients, instrumentation and the treatment room.

Here we have some tips to help you find great dental assistant candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Dental assistants searching for jobs on Indeed*

501,639

Job seekers that clicked dental assistant jobs

131,557

Resumes for job seekers with dental assistant experience on Indeed

40,211

Dental assistant jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring dental assistant?

  • Common salary in US: $18.39 hourly
  • Typical salaries range from $7.55$33.85 hourly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – April 2021

As of April 2021, dental assistant jobs in the U.S. are very competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 12 job seekers per dental assistant job.

Why hire a dental assistant?

A dependable dental assistant maintains the dental office by assuring patients are cared for and treatments move along accordingly. They provide basic dental procedures, such as taking X-rays and sterilizing equipment, and enable the growth of the establishment. Choosing the right candidate for a dental assistant ensures dental services, including billing and scheduling, are done properly.

• Provides the needed support to dentists and hygienists, as required
• Prepares the dental treatment room and has an understanding of equipment and instruments
• Maintains and updates all patient records

Deciding between a full-time vs freelance dental assistant

Dentists’ offices may consider employing a freelance dental assistant for coverage when their full-time employee needs time off. They can also hire freelance dentists and dental assistants to come in on specific days and perform procedures so they can increase their workload. 

Additionally, dental offices can hire freelance dental assistants remotely to communicate with patients in faraway locations. The remote dental assistant can use an oral camera and an online application to take and send images of the patient’s teeth. 

Typically, dentists’ offices have at least one full-time dental assistant on staff. 

What are the ranks of dental assistants?

There are a few ranks and titles a dental assistant can hold. Each title comes with additional responsibilities. These positions include:

  • Dental assistant: Dental assistants are entry-level employees who assist dentists with their procedures. Their responsibilities include preparing the patients, sterilizing dental tools and setting up instrument trays.
  • Certified dental assistant: Certified dental assistants have worked as dental assistants for at least one year and passed a certification test. Additional responsibilities include setting up appointments, collecting patient information and taking X-rays. 
  • Expanded function dental assistant: An expanded function dental assistant has the responsibilities of the roles below them in addition to other duties. They’ve been licensed to perform some advanced duties under the supervision of a dentist, such as taking impressions, applying topical fluoride and sealants and polishing.
  • Dental assistant instructor: Instructors teach aspiring dental assistants the uses of specific tools, dental record-keeping and radiology tasks. 

Where to find dental assistants

To find the right dental assistant for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies: 

  • Post notices about the position. Hanging up signs can alert the community to the open job and bring potential candidates.
  • Promote or hire from within. Some of your established employees may be interested in interviewing for the position. Set up meetings with these individuals to determine if they’d be a suitable fit. 
  • Search online. If you need a dental assistant on short notice, search online forums and sites for available candidates.
  • Network. Communicate with other dental offices to get information about dental assistants in the area who are looking for work. 
  • Post your job online. Try posting your dental assistant job on Indeed to find and attract quality dental assistant candidates.

What are the ranks of dental assistants?

There are a few ranks and titles a dental assistant can hold. Each title comes with additional responsibilities. These positions include:

  • Dental assistant: Dental assistants are entry-level employees who assist dentists with their procedures. Their responsibilities include preparing the patients, sterilizing dental tools and setting up instrument trays.
  • Certified dental assistant: Certified dental assistants have worked as dental assistants for at least one year and passed a certification test. Additional responsibilities include setting up appointments, collecting patient information and taking X-rays. 
  • Expanded function dental assistant: An expanded function dental assistant has the responsibilities of the roles below them in addition to other duties. They’ve been licensed to perform some advanced duties under the supervision of a dentist, such as taking impressions, applying topical fluoride and sealants and polishing.
  • Dental assistant instructor: Instructors teach aspiring dental assistants the uses of specific tools, dental record-keeping and radiology tasks. 

Writing a dental assistant job description

Writing a detailed job description includes a list of job duties, responsibilities and necessary skills to find suitable dental assistant candidates.

When writing your dental assistant job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on dental assistant jobs, according to Indeed data:

  • Dental assistant
  • Dental
  • RDA
  • Dental office
  • Assistant
  • Receptionist
  • Registered dental assistant
  • Pediatric dental assistant
  • Dental assistants
  • Healthcare

Interviewing dental assistant candidates

For a comprehensive interview of suitable candidates for a dental assistant position, it’s essential to compare the knowledge and skills of all potential candidates. Dental assistants should be able to confidently answer the following:

• Proficiency in dental procedures and equipment knowledge
• Insight and experience of dentist practices, including basic dental procedures
• How they’ve excelled at providing support and outstanding customer service to a dental practice

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of dental assistant interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire a dental assistant

Do I really need to hire a dental assistant?

Dental assistants are an essential part of the dental team. They help keep the office clean and sanitary, assist dentists and hygienists with dental procedures and care for patients. Without a dental assistant, dentists’ offices would operate much more slowly and the number of patients a dentist could see would be reduced. 

What does a dental assistant wear?

Dental assistants typically wear scrubs while they work.

How do I choose between two quality dental assistant candidates?

If you’re stuck between two choices for your hire, various factors can help you make a decision, such as experience, personality and knowledge. 

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