Dental assistants (NOC 3411)

About this job

Dental assistants help dentists,dental hygienists and dental therapists during the examination and treatment of patients and do clerical functions.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work primarily in dentists' offices community health centres, clinics and in educational institutions.
  • must have an approachable, relaxed and trustworthy manner
  • should have strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • should have well-developed fine motor skills to manipulate devices such as rubber dams and X-ray film
  • should also enjoy working with people and as part of a team
Common job titles
  • aide / assistant, dental
  • assistant, chair-side - dental
  • assistant, dental - certified / clinical
  • assistant, licensed dental
  • assistant, preventive dental
  • assistant, registered dental
  • aide / assistant, dental
  • assistant, chair-side - dental
  • assistant, dental - certified / clinical
  • assistant, intra-oral dental - certified
  • assistant, licensed dental
  • assistant, preventive dental

Duties

Dental assistants:

  • prepare patients for dental examinations and help the dentist during the examination
  • sterilize and maintain instruments and equipment
  • prepare dental instruments and filling materials
  • educate patients about oral hygiene
  • schedule patient appointments and record dental procedures performed
  • invoice patients for dental services
  • order dental and office supplies
  • take and develop X-rays
  • polish teeth and clinical crowns and apply fluoride and sealant
  • take preliminary impressions for diagnostic casts
  • make temporary crowns and restorations
  • may perform intra-oral duties such as remove sutures, take and record vital signs, apply desensitizing agents, topical anaesthetic, anticariogenic agents and apply and remove rubber dams.

Work environment

Dental assistants usually work 40 hours per week in clean, well-lit dentists' offices, hospitals, public health centres and education institutions. Some shifts may include Saturdays or evenings.

Dental assistants wear gloves, masks, eye wear and protective clothing to protect themselves and their patients from infectious diseases. Safety procedures are also followed when using X-ray machines to reduce associated risks.

Insights from industry

Job opportunities will come from new job creation and the need to replace retiring workers.

Overall, job opportunities for dental assistants should remain strong as B.C.'s growing population continues to increase the demand for dental services. The growth in awareness about good dental hygiene has increased the level of dental care in the general population. As people keep their natural teeth longer, older people will require more dental care than previously required. Cosmetic dental procedures, such as laser whitening and caps are also gaining popularity.

Since Level II (certified) dental assistants may perform a wider range of duties than Level I dental assistants, they are generally in higher demand.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Progression from Level I to Level II is possible with the appropriate training and licensure.

With additional training, dental assistants can also advance to positions as dental hygienists. Bridging programs are offered for CDAs who wish to pursue a career in dental hygiene.

Dental assistants may also advance to positions such as senior CDA, clinic manager, office manager, treatment coordinator, administrator, researcher, instructor or sales representative.

Additional resources