Cosmetic Dental Assistant: Job Duties & Requirements

Mar 23, 2019

Read about the administrative and clinical tasks that cosmetic dental assistants are responsible for. Learn about training options, career outlook estimations and salary information. Also, find out about similar jobs that may be of interest.

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Career Information for Cosmetic Dental Assistants

The field of cosmetic dentistry covers aesthetic-related dental procedures, such as veneers, teeth whitening, enameloplasty and orthodontics. A cosmetic dental assistant performs a variety of tasks in a dental office, including assisting cosmetic dentists during treatments and surgery. These assistants are responsible for handing instruments to the dentist, and they need to make sure every patient is comfortable. It is important for them to keep the patient's mouth dry and clear of obstructions. Some dental assistants do lab-related work, like making casts of teeth or processing x-rays. Some states permit cosmetic dental assistants to apply sealants or fluoride. Assistants may also perform a variety of administrative tasks, including scheduling and billing.

Education Varies by state; on-the-job training may be sufficient, or formal programs and licensing or certification may be required
Job Skills Communication and interpersonal skills, understanding of cosmetic dental terminology, familiarity with sterilization techniques
Median Salary (2017)* $37,630 for all dental assistants
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 19% growth for all dental assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

Training requirements vary by state; in some states, on-the-job training is sufficient, while others may require educational credentials as well licensing, certification or registration. These programs consist of laboratory and classroom work and teach students about dental assisting skills and preclinical instructions. Most of these programs take less than one year to complete, and students go on to build work experience in a cosmetic dental office.

Job Skills

Cosmetic dental assistants need to know and understand cosmetic dental terminology. Communication and interpersonal skills are essential, because assistants interact with patients and cosmetic dentists all day long. Cosmetic dental assistants are also required to make sure that all the instruments and utensils are sterilized.

Career and Education Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job openings for all dental assistants are predicted to grow 19% from 2016 through 2026. The increasing number of people who need dental services and the expanse of dental practices are two factors expected to drive growth in the field of cosmetic dentistry assisting. The median annual salary for all dental assistants was published as $37,630 by the BLS in May 2017.

Alternative Career Options

Similar career choices include:

Medical Assistant

While some of their tasks are administrative, medical assistants also assist physicians by giving patients injections and checking vital signs. Medical assistants may learn on the job, but they still usually need a high school diploma. May 2017 salary information from the BLS showed that medical assistants made a median income of $32,480 per year. Between 2016 and 2026, medical assistants could see a 29% increase in jobs, based on BLS data.

Physical Therapist Assistant

The median salary for physical therapist assistants was $57,430 in 2017, according to the BLS. Much-faster-than-average job growth of 31% was estimated for this field between 2016 and 2026. Working under licensed physical therapists, assistants monitor patients undergoing therapy and help them use equipment and devices. An associate's degree from an accredited program is commonly required, but state requirements may vary.

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