The dental industry offers many career opportunities. To become a dentist, one needs a college degree and then 3-4 additional years of dental school to become a dentist, additional years to become a specialist, and must pass all state licensing regulations and programs.
All other positions do not necessarily require a college degree. Obviously, the people with more experience and training are more highly valued and paid. Individuals with common sense and a service-minded approach do best.
An absolute necessity is that of the dental assistant. This position serves as the "right hand" of scholars, regularly preparing for what the dentist will need. They assist in all procedures ranging from examinations and cleanings, all the way to the most difficult oral surgeries. A good dental assistant who figures out what the doctor needs before the dentist knows his own needs is considered priceless by most doctors.
Many dental assistants are licensed to take x-rays and must provide good assistance to the dentist. This position, however, can be taught to the right individual without licensing, thought individuals who have attended dentist assistant programs and training at school are paid more than the non-trained individual. Depending on the size of the practice, the dental assistant will be responsible for all sterilization and cleaning responsibilities as well, including sterilization of all instruments and cleaning of the dental operatory and equipment prior to next usage.
Of all the jobs, dental hygienists are the only other position, away from dentists, that require specific training and a degree. Dental hygiene school is a very popular program over dental school due to short program length, usually 24 months, and ability to work right out of school without state licensing requirements, unlike dentists. Whereas dentists can provide all dental treatments, hygienists focus solely on dental hygiene and preventive care. They are licensed to provide all exams (regular and periodontal), prophylaxis, and root planning (deep cleaning) services. They are not, however, allowed to diagnose conditions like dentists – but are trained to spot problems to require a dentist's consultation services. Many hygienists use dental assistants as well. This dental industry becomes more popular as many dentists choose to delegate the preventive services to hygienists, enabling them to perform more high-end procedures rather than spending their time doing cleanings.
FRONT DESK RECEPTIONISTS
Anyone applying for this job should be friendly, trained in customer service, polite, and very efficient. All scheduling responsibilities generally fall on the receptionist, meaning the entire schedule of practice and how efficiently it is run is dictated by how creatively and sensibly the receptionist plans the schedule. Many offices utilize the receptionist position as the person who collects payment for services rendered as well, making this a vital position to that office. The receptionist's face is the first that every patient sees and usually the last as well. Positive demeanor, well-groomed appearance, and a mindset to make patients feel as possible as possible is imperative to succeed as a dental receptionist.
Everything the dentist does not do, the office manager must do. If the dentist you work for does not care to do payroll, it is your responsibility. If the receptionist is not present, you must fill the position or train someone to do it. Generally, all office functions and operations are responsibilities of the office manager. If there is a problem with an employee, the managing dentist and office manager will consult, and it is often that the hiring and firing duties will fall upon that of the office manager position. Of all the dental industry jobs, this position is most heavily involved in the business function of dental practices. Typically, all administrative functions including upkeep of office supplies, keeping dental supplies stocked, inventory control, handling petty cash and patient management are the responsibilities of this particular and highly valued dental industry job.
Becoming more popular is the job of treatment coordinator. Smaller offices still utilize the dental industry positions of office manager, or even receptionists, to act in the capacity of this job, but many larger offices utilize some treatment coordinators. The main function of this position is to take the doctor's diagnosis, figure out the total cost of the treatment as well as the duration of treatment, and arranging a consultative session with the patient in order to sell the treatment. A deep understanding of dental treatment is necessary for this position as you will be answering all questions. This position is most imperative to increasing revenues and successfully convicting patients to stay with the practice. Being an effective and clear communicator with highly developed sales techniques is crucial to becoming successful in this job.
INDUSTRY JOB HIGHLIGHTS
The standard pay is generally higher for dental industry jobs than many other fields where no licensing is required. Many jobs offer the basic medical and dental coverage, although 401K and other corporate perks are generally not offered. They require pretty standard office hours, generally falling somewhere between 8-6 pm, and many have weekends off, or require Saturdays in lieu of one weekday. Most practices are closed on Sundays. People with children in school often opt to work at dental industry jobs for these reasons. All jobs require basic knowledge of HIPAA and OSHA practices and regulations, including a sterile environment and protecting patient confidentiality.