See an overview of the various career opportunities in the dental field below, Dental Assistants. Dental Assistants Provide Practical Help for Dentist. Switching to a dental career is relatively simple if you want to work as a hygienist, laboratory technician or dental assistant. Enroll in a six-month certification program or earn an associate's degree in approximately two years and apply for state license, if needed.
A career in the dental field allows you to interact with other people while helping them feel more comfortable in an environment that can cause some discomfort and concern. Many patients worry about visiting the dentist, so being able to offer support and resources that allow them to feel better while improving their oral health brings satisfaction to those who choose this career path. The dental industry is also part of the growing healthcare industry, ensuring promising job prospects. The Dental Accreditation Commission, a division of the American Dental Association, provides accreditation for 270 dental assistant programs in the United States.
A dental assistant may also choose to take a certification exam through the National Dental Assistance Board, which allows them to become a Certified Dental Assistant. In some states, a dental hygienist may perform additional tasks, such as removing stitches, administering anesthesia during minor dental procedures, working with metal components, and sculpting filling materials to fill cavities in the teeth. Dental hygienists must work with a licensed dentist. It has nearly 6,600 dental shortage areas where more than 10,900 dentists are needed, 1 Mobile hygienists can help fill this shortage.
At least 42 states allow dental hygienists to work outside of a dental office in community settings, such as homes, workplaces, and mobile vans. While you won't normally see dental lab technicians during your routine dental checkup, they can play a critical role in how your smile looks. Dental lab technicians create tailor-made items for your mouth. If you've ever needed braces, crowns, dentures, bridges, or veneers, these would have been done by a dental lab technician.
They can usually be found working in an outside laboratory, but they can also work for dental offices, dental schools, hospitals, or military installations. You might not expect a dentist to be part of a crime resolution team like the ones you see on TV. But forensic dentists do just that: they work with forensic doctors and law enforcement to perform tasks such as identifying suspects in crimes or people who have died. This may involve matching dental records with bite marks or human remains.
Many forensic dentists have their own dental offices and perform forensic examinations when requested. Sometimes they are even called to testify in court. The field of forensic dentistry gained notoriety when John Wilkes Booth's unusual jaw formation helped identify him in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Oral health researchers can make progress in the field.
These researchers, also known as dental scientists, develop new technologies and advance knowledge about oral health and diseases. You can find oral health researchers working at universities, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, or government institutions such as the National Institutes of Health. They can also be members of the dental school that teach students. Dental professors are members of the dental school who combine teaching with research, community service, and patient care.
They spend part of their day working in a clinic or hospital related to dental school. This includes caring for patients while providing on-the-job training to residents, diagnosing dental problems, and providing treatment. Other parts of the day are spent in the classroom and laboratory, lecturing on topics ranging from tooth decay to gum disease and working with students and other members of the dental school. Dental professors use the latest research and cutting-edge techniques in the field of dentistry to answer student questions and to analyze and explore new solutions.
When dental professors aren't working with patients, students, and other faculty members, they also spend time in their office developing upcoming lectures, researching the latest dental trends, writing articles to share research, analyze data, and review grants. Dental assistants are essential for the proper functioning of each dental office. If you want to start a dental career without spending years in college, then working as a dental assistant is a great role for you. Dental assistants help dentists with a wide range of tasks including sterilizing and preparing instruments for procedures, taking x-rays and developing them for the dentist, and helping dentists prepare dentures for older patients.
A dental hygienist is essentially a mid-level dental career. It is a goal for many professionals in the field of dentistry, especially because it offers a significant degree of occupational safety. Dental hygienists have a higher level of responsibility than dental assistants. Their role includes performing tests for oral diseases such as gingivitis and cleaning and polishing patients' teeth.
Some of the most common tasks include preparing the treatment room with tools and equipment, preparing patients for treatments by sitting and covering them, answering patient questions, sterilizing tools, maintaining patient records, providing patient education, ensuring a clean and safe working environment and maintaining the inventory of necessary supplies in the dental office. Dental professionals and students can gain valuable experience by volunteering at one of ADCF's dental clinics. Topics include curriculum structure and learning assessments, interpersonal skills in dental education, and integrating IT tools into practices. Depending on the program and your academic background, you may need to complete previous courses before taking the dental admission test.
These positions often offer the opportunity to provide care to those who otherwise would not have access to dental care. If you want to help people preserve their oral health and appearance, you can become a dentist, dental hygienist, dental assistant or dental technician. There are more than 300 accredited dental hygiene education programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools and universities across the U. Dental professionals also need to develop research skills to educate their communities and shape the future of healthcare.
For example, certified dental laboratory technicians must complete 12 hours of continuing education during each one-year renewal cycle. While dental technicians rarely work directly with patients, except under the direction of a licensed dentist, they are valuable members of the dental care team. Similarly, dental hygienists can take online courses from the American Association of Dental Hygienists (ADHA), which offers on-demand, self-paced options. The journal welcomes the submission of manuscripts and provides opportunities for dental students and professionals to participate in the review process.