Dental assistants provide direct and indirect patient care working under the supervision of a dentist. Potential work settings include dental practices in both general and specialty offices. Work areas are near the patient in the dental chair to permit efficient assistance to the dentist.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment as a dental assistant is expected to grow 31 percent by 2020, making it one of the top 30 fastest growing occupations in the U.S. The BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook states: "Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to spur the demand for preventative dental services. As the large baby-boom population ages, and as people keep more of their original teeth than did previous generations, the need to maintain and treat teeth will continue to increase the need for dental assistants."
People in this career prepare patients for dental treatments and procedures, assist dentists and sterilize instruments. Some perform x-rays and lab tasks, maintain patient records and coordinate appointments. A typical work setting involves handling tools, working in a team, and interacting with patients.