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.

  • 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
  • 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 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.2 ★
Avg. Experience8+ years

Dental Assistant Salaries

Average Base Pay

$21 /hour
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
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Not enough salaries reported to show distribution
Median: $21
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Glassdoor Estimated Salary

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.

Dental Assistant
Dental Assistant III
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Dental Assistant IV
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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
15 Aug 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
4 Jan 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
21 Dec 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
2 Aug 2021

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

Rutgers UniversityRutgers University
Certified Dental Assistant
3 Aug 2021

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

Qatar AirwaysQatar Airways
Hygiene Assistant
15 Apr 2021

“Good good good good good”

Coast Dental ServicesCoast Dental Services
Expanded Functions Dental Assistant
1 Jun 2021

“Pay was decent but not consistent”

Dental Nurse
27 Oct 2021

“everthing was good I enjoyed”

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Dental Assistant Interviews

Related Careers

Medical Assistant
No skills overlap
Patient Care
Certified Nursing Assistant
Dental Hygienist
25% skills overlap

Dental Assistant jobs

Frequently asked questions about the role 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 is a minimum of a Bachelor's Degree and an average of 0 - 1 of experience not including years spent in education and/or training.