If you are someone who is looking for a career in the field of dentistry then, you probably have given yourself a lot of options to choose between the varieties of roles present in dentistry. Two of the most common roles are dental technicians and dental assistants. Though, both the persons work in the same field but perform different job descriptions. In this blog, you’ll find detailed information on the roles of both and decide the one best suited for you.
What is basically a Dental Technician?
Dental technicians usually work in the medical laboratory and manufacture dental prosthetics such as bridges, crowns, and dentures. Therefore, working as a dental technician is a great job for those who have a natural artistic instinct and like to work on hands. Dental technicians do not involve in direct interaction with the patient and hence do not examine, diagnose, advise or treat patients so this role is suitable for those who are not interested in direct contact with patients.
Job Responsibilities of a Dental technician
The typical job responsibilities for the job description of a dental technician includes
- Filling orders for dental prosthetics or restorations
- Creating individual models of each patient’s mouth from physical and digital molds
- Working with constructive materials such as plaster, wax, porcelain and metal
- Matching the color and shape of the model to patient’s natural teeth aesthetics
- Maintain dental laboratory records and prepare reports on laboratory activities
Educational requirements to become a dental tech
Job opportunities are better for those who complete a 2-year Dental Lab Technician program leading to an associate’s degree or certificate but you must have a high school diploma or GED before this. However, most of the employers provide on job training but certification makes you a more desirable candidate for employers. During OJT you might learn simple tasks like pouring plaster into an impression, making crowns and dentures. Technicians can choose to specialize in one specific area like ceramics, dentures, or crowns and bridges. These specializations require an exam through the National Board for Certification in Dental Technology and to earn this National Board Certification, you have to take written and physical exams to demonstrate your skills in your chosen specialty.
After completing all the educational requirements, on average dental technician salary is expected to be around $35,000 per year which is a good amount and provides an excellent job outlook for many others.
What is a Dental Assistant?
Dental Assistants have a more responsible profile and work closely with the dentists and dental hygienists in the same clinic. This position is perfect for the person who likes to assist, is hard working, highly organized and communicates effectively. Since this position requires direct contact with patients, a person must have strong critical thinking skills and problem solving skills without getting frustrated and remaining calm.
Job responsibilities of a dental assistant
Typical job description of a dental assistant includes duties like:
- Preparing patient’s room before the appointment time
- Greeting patients, communicating patient care information to the dentist and answering patient’s questions and concerns
- Assisting dentist during dental treatment, including positioning instruments and equipments
- Scheduling patients appointments and sending patient follow up reminders
- Assisting patient with insurance billing issues
Educational requirements to become a dental assistant
The good thing about the dental assistant profession is you do not need to have a prior healthcare training or educational background to enroll in this type of program however; dental practices strongly favor Dental Assistants who have completed a reputable dental assisting program. And also the average annual salary of a dental assistant is somehow the same as that of a dental technician and they make around $37,000 per year.
Comparing dental technician vs dental assistant roles results in almost the same annual earnings however, the personal interest of a person for different job duties of both roles may be the deciding factor in choosing between these two.