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Dental Assistants
SOC Code: 31-9091.00

Assist dentist, set up equipment, prepare patient for treatment, and keep records.

Sample of reported job titles: Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Registered Dental Assistant, Dental Assistant (DA), Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA), Expanded Function Dental Assistant, Oral Surgery Assistant, Orthodontic Assistant (Ortho Assistant), Orthodontic Technician, Registered Dental Assistant (RDA), Surgical Dental Assistant


  • Prepare patient, sterilize or disinfect instruments, set up instrument trays, prepare materials, or assist dentist during dental procedures.
  • Record treatment information in patient records.
  • Expose dental diagnostic x-rays.
  • Take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients.
  • Assist dentist in management of medical or dental emergencies.
  • Provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentist.
  • Instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs.
  • Order and monitor dental supplies and equipment inventory.
  • Fabricate temporary restorations or custom impressions from preliminary impressions.
  • Make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts.
  • Pour, trim, and polish study casts.
  • Clean and polish removable appliances.
  • Clean teeth, using dental instruments.
  • Fabricate and fit orthodontic appliances and materials for patients, such as retainers, wires, or bands.
  • Schedule appointments, prepare bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer.
  • Apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.

Technology Skills

  • Accounting software - Intuit Quicken
  • Electronic mail software - Email software
  • Internet browser software - Web browser software
  • Medical software - Henry Schein Dentrix; Kodak Dental Systems Kodak SOFTDENT Practice management software PMS; Patterson Dental Supply Patterson EagleSoft; The Systems Workplace TDOCS
  • Office suite software - Microsoft Office
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software

Tools Used

  • Air compressors
  • Amalgam carriers
  • Bands for dental matrix - Matrix bands
  • Chemical or gas sterilizers - Chemiclaves
  • Combination furniture sets for dental procedures - Dental furniture units
  • Cosmetic dentistry curing lights or accessories - High-intensity lights; Light curing units
  • Dental amalgamators - Amalgamators
  • Dental articulators or accessories - Articulators
  • Dental bite blocks or wings or tabs - Bite blocks
  • Dental burs - Burs
  • Dental cutting or separating discs - Dental cutting instruments
  • Dental dam supplies - Molar clamps; Rubber dam clamp forceps; Rubber dam punches; Rubber dams
  • Dental depth gauges - Apex locators
  • Dental elevators - Root elevators
  • Dental examination chairs or related parts or accessories - Dental chairs
  • Dental filler contouring instruments - Filling instruments
  • Dental film processors - Dental x ray film processors
  • Dental finishing or polishing discs - Prophylaxis angles
  • Dental finishing or polishing kits - Denture, acrylic and porcelain polishing kits
  • Dental forceps - Cotton forceps; Extracting forceps; Splinter forceps; Tongue forceps
  • Dental formers - Vacuum formers
  • Dental hand pieces or accessories - Dental handpieces; Electric endodontic handpieces; Electric surgical handpieces; Rotary handpieces (see all 7 examples)
  • Dental hygiene instruments - Electronic calculus detectors
  • Dental impression trays - Impression trays
  • Dental instrument sharpening accessories - Instrument sharpening devices
  • Dental laboratory air abrasion units - Air abrasion units
  • Dental laboratory casting machines or its parts or accessories - Denture model presses
  • Dental laboratory lathes or accessories - Bench lathes
  • Dental laboratory model trimmers or accessories - Model trimmers
  • Dental laboratory vacuum units or supplies - Computerized pressure/vacuum casting systems; Power vacuum mixers
  • Dental lasers - Caries detection aids; Dental laser systems
  • Dental matrices or sets - Posterior matrices
  • Dental operatory retraction cords - Gingival retraction cords
  • Dental probes - Dental explorers; Double-ended probes; Single-ended periodontal probes
  • Dental pulp or vitality testers - Pulp testers
  • Dental radiology film - Bitewing film holders
  • Dental retainers
  • Dental saliva ejectors or oral suction devices or supplies - Evacuator systems; High-velocity evacuators; Saliva ejectors
  • Dental scalers or accessories - Dental scalers
  • Dental scissors - Collar scissors; Crown scissors
  • Dental spatulas
  • Dental syringe accessory kits - Needle holders
  • Dental syringes or needles or syringes with needles - Aspirating syringes; Cartridge syringes; Needles
  • Dental tooth separators - Orthodontic separators
  • Dental tweezers
  • Dental wedges or sets - Dental wedges
  • Dental x ray apparatus parts or kits or accessories - X ray machine cones
  • Dental x ray units - Dental x ray machines; Intraoral x ray equipment; Panoramic x ray equipment
  • Dry heat or hot air sterilizers - Thermal disinfectors
  • Electronic blood pressure units - Electronic blood pressure devices
  • Electrosurgical or electrocautery equipment - Electrosurgery units
  • Medical gas cylinders or related devices - Oxygen tanks
  • Medical radiation dosimeters - Radiation dosimeters
  • Medical radiological shielding aprons or masks or drapes - Lead aprons; Protective shielding equipment; Thyroid collars
  • Mercury blood pressure units - Manual blood pressure cuffs
  • Orthodontic appliance clasps - Headgear
  • Orthodontic brackets
  • Orthodontic pliers - Contouring orthodontic pliers; Dental crimping pliers; Dental pliers; Intraoral detailing pliers (see all 8 examples)
  • Orthodontic setter bands - Orthodontic band pushers; Orthodontic band slitters
  • Periodontal curettes - Gracey curettes; Universal curettes
  • Personal computers
  • Pulse oximeter units - Pulse oximeters
  • Steam autoclaves or sterilizers - Autoclaves; Steam cleaning equipment; Steam sterilizers; Sterilizers
  • Surgical clamps or clips or forceps or accessories - Hemostatic forceps
  • Teeth cleaning devices or accessories - Air/water syringes
  • Ultrasonic cleaning equipment - Ultrasonic sterilization units


  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.


  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Service Orientation - Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.


  • Interest code: CRS
    • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
    • Social - Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

Work Context

  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 100% responded “Every day.”
  • Physical Proximity - 94% responded “Very close (near touching).”
  • Contact With Others - 94% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections - 89% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 84% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 86% responded “Every day.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 86% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls - 78% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Radiation - 75% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 51% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions - 52% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 66% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants - 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 66% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 51% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 37% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Telephone - 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body - 34% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 50% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 37% responded “Very important results.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks - 29% responded “Important.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable - 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 51% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Time Pressure - 49% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People - 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 31% responded “Limited responsibility.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 45% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions - 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Standing - 38% responded “About half the time.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
63%Post-secondary certificate
12%Associate's degree
9%High school diploma or equivalent

Work Styles

  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Social Orientation - Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

Work Values

  • Relationships - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
  • Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $18.09 hourly, $37,630 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 332,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Much faster than average (15% or higher)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 45,900

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