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Oswego Career Ladders - Dental Assistant

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Dental Assistant

Industry: Healthcare
Area: Dentistry

Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They work chair side as dentists examine and treat patients. They prepare patients for treatment, and obtain dental records. Assistants hand instruments and materials to dentists, and keep patients mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices.

Assistants also sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare tray setups for dental procedures, and instruct patients on postoperative and general oral care. Some dental assistants prepare materials for making impressions and restorations, expose radiographs, and process dental X-ray film as directed by a dentist. They may also remove sutures, apply anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place rubber dams on the teeth to isolate them for individual treatment. Those with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies.

Work Settings

Virtually all dental assistants and dental lab technicians work in private dental offices or dental clinics. Two out of five assistants work part-time, sometimes in more than one office.


Individuals interested in dental assisting should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Programs offered at community colleges accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation usually take 12 to 24 months to complete.

Job Outlook

43 percent increase over the next 10 years


$17,000 - $38,000(NYS Avg $24,780)

Work Schedule

35-40 hour week; may include Saturdays and evenings

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