What does a Dental Assistant do?

Dental assistants are responsible for providing the patient with high quality care by performing a variety of office, laboratory, and patient care duties. This usually entails helping the dentist handle patients, instruments, and supplies during the treatment of the teeth, mouth, and gums. Dental assistants also document patient care and take x-rays.

Most dental assistants are Registered Dental Assistants (RDAs). While requirements vary by state, it is common to require the following to become an RDA: completion of an accredited dental assistant program, completion of a minimum number of work hours, certification in CPR, and passing of a practical and written exam. Dental assistants must have strong interpersonal and listening skills.

What responsibilities are common for Dental Assistant jobs?
  • Take and document patient dental history and updates, as well as overall health and medication history
  • Assist dentist by handling supplies and instruments as requested
  • Prepare tables and trays for dentist with necessary instruments and supplies
  • Clean and sterilize instruments, and prepare treatment rooms as needed
  • Take, expose, and mount high quality dental radiographs
  • Ensure appropriate supply of equipment and materials
  • Perform patient charting as instructed by the dentist
  • Welcome patients and get them situated in the appropriate treatment room
What are the typical qualifications for Dental Assistant jobs?
  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED) required
  • Licensed as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) or a Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions (RDAEF)
  • Current CPR certification preferred
  • Radiology certification preferred
  • 1-2 years of experience as an RDA
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Proven ability to follow outlined policies and guidelines
  • Possess a professional and positive attitude
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.2 ★
Total Pay--
Career Opportunity
3.3 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

How much does a Dental Assistant make?

Confident
$53,048 /yr
Total Pay
$38,808
 /yr

Base Pay

+
$14,240
 /yr

Additional Pay

$53,048

 / yr
$31K$300K
Most Likely Range
Possible Range
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Dental Assistant Career Path

Learn how to become a Dental Assistant, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Dental Assistant
$53,048/yr
L3
L2

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
24%
2 - 4
20%
5 - 7
0%
8+
56%
Not including years spent in education and/or training
See Career Path

Dental Assistant Insights

Read what Dental Assistant professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
Yalobusha General Hospital
Dental Assistant
Aug 15, 2021

“My supervisor was very understanding and worked with me the best he could it was a very rewarding job”

Diamond BracesDiamond Braces
Orthodontic Assistant
Jan 4, 2021

“You have all the opportunities to learn and grow and become the best at what you do.”

Clairemont Pediatric DentalClairemont Pediatric Dental
Dental Assistant
Dec 21, 2021

“Dr.Nguyen its super flexible and reasonable with the schedule which is one of the many reasons why I love working here.”

Aspen DentalAspen Dental
Dental Assistant
Aug 2, 2021

“All training provided (I didn't go to school for anything remotely dental).”

Barotz Dental
Dental Assistant
Jun 21, 2022

“It’s salary paid so if a procedure takes longer than normal you still get paid for an 8 hour day.”

Rutgers UniversityRutgers University
Certified Dental Assistant
Aug 3, 2021

“You can work and learn it’s a nice place to work especially if you love what you do”

Aspen DentalAspen Dental
Dental Assistant
Jan 20, 2022

“I dont mind that much though because I know we're providing life changing treatment and helping patients!”

Sbenati DentistrySbenati Dentistry
Dental Assistant
Mar 5, 2022

“Dr.Sbenati dedicates a great deal of his time to group training in the office which translates to the best service for our patients.”

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Dental Assistant Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the roles and responsibilities of a Dental Assistant

When working as a Dental Assistant, the most common skills you will need to perform your job and for career success are Suturing, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Administering, Reviews, and Customer Focus.

The most similar professions to Dental Assistant are:
  • Medical Assistant
  • Patient Care
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Dental Hygienist

The most common qualifications to become a Dental Assistant include a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 years of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.

Related Careers

Medical Assistant
$67,052
No skills overlap
Patient Care
$56,976
Certified Nursing Assistant
$59,010
Dental Hygienist
$131,659
25% skills overlap

Dental Assistant Jobs