Keeping smiles bright
As much of the training to become a dentist is hands on and not conducive to an online environment students wishing to pursue that career path must obtain certification through traditional schooling. However, many dentists still rely on online courses and seminars to upgrade their education and keep up to date on all the latest technologies and procedures.
An online education can also qualify you for a number of different careers in the dental field, including:
- Dental office management
- Dental assistant
- Administrative dental assistant
More Than Medical
Next to continuing education for dentists, the most common training you'll find online focuses on the business side of dentistry. While you study to qualify as an office manager or dental assistant, you'll learn all the different administrative functions that go into running a dental practice.
The most important skills for dental office management or dental assistance are interpersonal and communication. You'll be the first (and most frequent) point of contact for patients, so it is crucial that you learn to deal with diverse personalities and expectations - and to remain patient and calm in the face of pressure!
Remember, many of your patients may be anxious about visiting the dentist, and may come to you with a lot of pain - don't expect them to be putting their most friendly face forward. As an office manager or assistant, you'll need to reassure and calm patients so that the dentist doesn't have to deal with a lot of stress during procedures.
Just Like a Dentist
While working to acclimatize your patients to the dentist's office, as an office manager or dental assistant you may also have to prepare the patient before he or she meets with the dentist. Your duties could include cleaning teeth, taking x-rays or administering anesthesia. You might also be present to assist the dentist during procedures. This means that you have to possess medical skills that are quite similar to those of the dentist's.
Dental assistants and office managers are going to be in high demand over the next few years, especially as the field of cosmetic dentistry continues to grow. A trip to the dentist isn't limited to a simple yearly cleaning anymore!
As a dental assistant you can expect to make anywhere from $30 000 to $40 000 a year. Pay usually depends on the type of position you take (for example, office managers tend to make more because they're both dental assistants and business leaders), the size of the practice you work for and the state in which you work.