Advancing Your Dental Assistant Career: Specializations and Training

dental assistant jobs

Dental assistants are an invaluable part of a dental team, with responsibilities ranging from supporting the dentist to ensuring the smooth operation of the practice. If you’re a dental assistant looking to advance in your career, this blog will help you learn about specializations and training options that may assist in propelling your career forward. 

Demand for Dental Assistant Jobs

Dental assistant jobs have been in high demand for the past few years, and the trend is expected to continue. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that dental assistant employment will increase by 7% between 2022 and 2032, which is higher than the national average. As new practices and facilities open, the need for skilled assistants will grow, providing dental assistants with a unique opportunity for job growth and advancement. 

What is a General Dental Assistant?

Before diving into what specialties are available for dental assistants, let’s discuss what a general dental assistant job entails. As a general dental assistant, you perform essential duties such as sterilizing equipment, helping dentists during procedures, providing chairside assistance, and more. While being a general dental assistant means you are already an invaluable asset to your practice, you may specialize further to increase your knowledge and career opportunities. 

Dental Assistant Specializations 

  • Orthodontic Assistant: Orthodontic dental assistants assist orthodontists who diagnose, prevent, and correct teeth misalignments. They work directly with patients undergoing treatment and help manage orthodontic procedures such as braces and aligners.
    • Training: To become an orthodontic assistant, you must complete specialized certification courses that cover topics such as orthodontic procedures, patient management, and sterilization techniques. 
  • Oral Surgery Assistant: Oral surgery dental assistants support oral surgeons during procedures such as tooth extractions and dental implant placements. They must be well informed on sterilization processes, equipment use, and post-operative care.
    • Training: Oral surgery assistant training programs typically cover topics like surgical techniques, instrument preparation, and patient monitoring. 
  • Pediatric Dental Assistant: Pediatric dental assistants have special expertise in working with children. This role requires patience and behavioral management techniques. They assist pediatric dentists in providing dental care services for kids of all ages.
    • Training: Pediatric dental assistant training typically includes learning about behavior management and tailoring procedures specifically to children’s needs. 
  • Endodontic Dental Assistant: This type of dental assistant works in the endodontics field, which specializes in diagnosing and treating issues with dental pulp and root canals.
    • Training: Becoming an endodontic assistant requires training on root canal procedures, X-ray techniques, and specialized instruments. 
  • Periodontal Dental Assistant: Working alongside periodontists, periodontal dental assistants specialize in treating gum disease by assisting in scaling and root planing procedures. They also perform maintenance checks, which measure progress over time for services provided by the periodontist.
    • Training: Periodontal dental assistants receive advanced training that includes managing gum disease, performing periodontal procedures, and handling periodontal instruments. 

Training Options for Specializations 

If you are looking to specialize in any of these areas, you have numerous training options at your disposal: 

  • Accredited Dental Assistant Programs: There are plenty of accredited dental assisting programs that offer courses or tracks specific to orthodontics, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, endodontics, and periodontics. 
  • On-The-Job Training: Some dental assistants can gain valuable experience through on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced specialists in their field. 
  • Continuing Education: You can increase your knowledge and abilities through continuing education courses, workshops, or seminars focusing on your chosen specialty.
  • Certifications: Earning dental assistant certifications for the specialization you want to enter can elevate your credentials and make you more appealing to potential employers. 

If you are considering becoming a dental assistant, remember that the demand for experienced professionals in the dental industry is growing. Dental assistant jobs provide opportunities for specialization and career advancement. From orthodontic assistants to oral surgery assistants, plenty of training and education options are available to support you. By seeking specialized training or certifications, you can become an invaluable member of any dental practice and enjoy an exciting career path within the dental industry.