Career Opportunities
Dental Assistants in Training Dental Assistants in Class

Students completing the Dental Assistant program at NWACC can pursue a career as a:

 
Dentist
Dental Hygienist
Dental Assistant
Dental Lab Technician
Sales Representative
Dental Equipment Technician
 
Please note: There are some differences between dental assistant and dental hygienist. A dental assistant performs much of the same tasks and operations as the dentist. As a certified assistant you will be expected to develop x-rays, organize patient files, prep the patient to be seen by the dentist and clean the dental instruments. Dental assistants may also be required to take care of clerical operations. This means answering phone calls, talking to sales reps, scheduling appointments, etc.
 
The dental assistant job description varies depending on the state, the amount of training and experience. Often times they are also responsible for keeping the office running smoothly, keeping the patients comfortable, managing patient accounts etc. In most cases a dental assistant job description involves administrative work as well as assisting the dentist with dental procedures. An assistant’s job also consists of preparing patients for their appointment. It also include taking x-rays, sterilizing any equipment that may be used during the procedure, and mixing compounds that may be needed for either cleaning or filling teeth. They also assist the dentist by giving the dentist proper tools needed during procedures and they are responsible for keeping the patient's mouth dry while the dentist is performing the procedure.
 
Dental hygienists are the individuals responsible for cleaning a patient’s teeth. Many of their duties overlap with those of a dental assistant, but there is more direct patient care and higher education requirements for this profession. Duties include removing plaque and other debris from the surface of the teeth, taking patient medical histories, making models and impressions of the teeth, patient charting, cleaning the teeth and applying the necessary decay preventatives, distributing local anesthetics, moving sutures and dressings, and providing follow up care after a dental procedure.