Careers in Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting studentTo work as a dental assistant in Oregon, graduates must take the Radiation Health and Safety exam and demonstrate the ability to take dental radiographs. Graduates who take further testing to become certified dental assistants are also eligible for Oregon Expanded Function Assisting (EFDA) endorsement. For further information about the testing and certification process, please contact Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) at 1-800-367-3262.

What skills will I use on the job?

The dental assistant is an important member of the dental team, assisting the dentist in providing both technical skills and communication, sometimes working independently in serving dental patients. Basic office management skills as well as clinical laboratory skills are the dental assistant’s responsibility. The dental assistant may work with dental radiographs, mix dental materials, organize treatment rooms, pass dental instruments, prepare, place and remove rubber dams, place topical anesthetics, sealants and fluorides, among other duties. Specific tasks will depend upon state regulations and the needs of your office. Duties may include: handling water, air and suction devices, mixing dental cements, bases and impression materials, taking and developing X-rays, recording medical and dental histories, maintaining order and sterilizing instruments, making study models of patients’ teeth, providing oral hygiene instructions, making dental appointments and answering the telephone.

Who will hire me?

Certified Expanded Functions Dental Assistants (EFDA) are in high demand. Dental assistants are hired by private dental offices and large dental clinics.

How much can I earn?

Approximate wage in the Portland area is between $12 and $16 per hour.