My day job… teeth cleaning….

Potential income and the ability to find a job are two key factors to be considered when looking at career choices. (Dental Hygienist Salary is about twice that of Dental Assistant Salary.) ¬†Certainly, length of education, cost of education and the difficulty of entry to academic programs is also important. However, with the average career lasting seven or more years in today’s population, the far more important factor is what it is like to work in the job everyday. The job outlook for dental assistants and dental hygienists is strong. The income is good, and education requirements for entry can be completed in as little as one year. Both of these careers offer the opportunity to work with dentists and patients in a variety of technical, clinical, educational, and customer service functions.The public has options when choosing healthcare providers. In that way, dentistry is much like other businesses. Friendly and consistent customer service are critical for any business. Before the dentist even makes an appearance, it is often the actions of the assistant or hygienist that creates a first impression for the entire dental practice, and they usually end up spending as much time, if not more, with the patient than the dentist. Providing god service and building relationships with patients not only leads to continuing visits from the patients, but patients are more likely to successfully carry out the instructions for proper dental care. It is a mutually beneficial outcome.

A dental assistant is usually the first person a patient sees when they enter the office. They interact with them and put them at ease until the dentist arrives for treatment while simultaneously dealing with information gathering, medical records, insurance and the like. They are often present with the dentist during consultation, and a good number of procedures, along with associated instructions to the patient, will be carried out after consultation by either the hygienist or assistant instead of the dentist. It will also be a staff member that is often the last point of contact when the patient leaves. Much more of the patient’s time is spent with staff members than the dentist.

In fact, most of the procedures performed by dentists are done with the aid of a dental assistant. This is often referred to as four-handed dentistry, a technique in which a dental assistant or dental hygienist works directly with the dentist on the procedures being done in the mouth of a patient. This allows the doctor to focus solely on the medical elements. Sterilization and preparation of tools and materials both pre and post procedure is also done by the assistant.

Dentistry is definitely a team sport. Good dental assistants and hygienists can expect to be appreciated as valued members. The cohesive bond that develops is a gratifying one that makes the daily chore of working one of mutual appreciation. Assurances of safety helps patients overcome previous trauma and fear associated with dentistry. This allows the dentist to realize a successful practice as a valued member of the community.

While the dental assistant tends to fulfill a full time schedule due to the amount of office work they also perform, dental hygienists may have a flexible work schedule. It’s not uncommon for an office to have some evening or weekend hours for their patients. A smaller practice is more likely to have more regular hours. Dental hygienists tend to work a part-time schedule, which can be very useful when raising children or wanting to have more time with the family. There are variables based on geographic location, population and number of graduates in a given area.