Career Explorer

Job Description

What They Do

Dental Assistants help dentists provide quality oral health care, educate patients, prepare and sterilize dental instruments, and perform administrative work.

A person in this career:

  • Sterilizes instruments and sets up instrument trays
  • Takes and records medical/dental histories and vital signs of patients
  • Records treatment information in patient records
  • Takes and develops dental X-rays/digital images
  • Gives dental care instructions to patients
  • Makes preliminary impressions of teeth to prepare models
  • Pours, trims, and polishes models
  • Cleans and polishes removable appliances
  • Helps dentist manage medical and dental emergencies
  • Provides post-operative instructions as prescribed by dentist 

Working Conditions and Physical Demands:

  • Handle loads of up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs.  Dental assistants might be required to do a lot of walking or sitting, or to use their arms and legs to control equipment or tools
  • Work in this occupation involves using one's hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work with radiation more than once a month 

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Seeing clearly close up 

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular work hours

Career at a Glance

Salary Range
$31,366 to $44,762

Skills Needed
Enjoy working with people
Enjoy hands-on patient care
Good problem solving and communication skills

Job Duties
Reviews patient health
Obtain dental radiographs
Make impressions of teeth and gums

Work Locations
Dental offices
Public health departments
Dental schools
Dental clinics