14 Pros and Cons of Being a Dental Assistant

If you are interested in dentistry but unable to become a dentist, a close job to pick up is as a dental assistant.

Working as a dental assistant, you are beside the dentist doing the same type of medical care.

In addition, in the future, you may be interested in earning an advanced degree and becoming a full-fledged dentist.

In the meantime, here are several pros and cons of being a dental assistant to help you decide on your career.

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Pros of Being a Dental Assistant

Shorter Training and Education

Compared to a dentist, a dental assistant does not need to go to school for so long.

This is helpful if you are transitioning careers and do not have much time or money to pay for schooling.

You can start working in a dental office as a dental assistant, getting paid much faster than if you are trying to become a dentist.

You do not have to spend as much money on college and training to start work compared to becoming a dentist.

You also do not have to invest as many years of your time going to college as a dental assistant compared to a dentist.

A dentist spends 12 or more years going to college, in comparison to the year or two of dental assistant training.

Helping Patients Improve Oral Health

If you have been passionate about helping people improve their oral health, then a job as a dental assistant is perfect for you.

This is the primary goal of your day–giving people advice on how to have better-looking teeth.

You are front-line and center with the tools and resources to encourage optimal oral healthcare.

Learn more about caring for people’s teeth and help improve oral health in your community by becoming a dental assistant.

It’s an Indoor Job

You get to work indoors and will never be stuck out in the heat.

If you have worked as a landscaper or construction worker, you may always be tired of being hot and sweaty.

This is a good reason why you might turn to dental assistant work.

The occupation as a dental assistant remains at a cool air-conditioned temperature that is always climate-controlled.

You do not get hot and sweaty like in outdoor landscaping or pool maintenance.

And you will never be sunburned when working as a dental assistant–unless you are doing a promotional event outside the office.

White Collar Profession

While a dentist is a fully white-collar professional, a dental assistant is one step away from that job status.

You can improve your social status by saying you work for a dentist in a dental office.

There is the prestige that comes with working in dentistry, which is a part of the medical industry.

For people looking to improve their social class, working as a dental assistant offers more prestige than a job working in the fast food industry, for example.

Every Day is Different

Sure, you have certain procedures to repeat with every patient, such as how you greet them and what you do for an annual exam.

For example, most teenagers will be in the market for braces, while children generally need fluoride treatments.

However, every patient will have unique challenges with taking care of dental care.

Sometimes, you will see a lot of cavities that need work or have to pull someone’s tooth.

Other times, you might be surprised at how healthy some patients’ oral health is, leaving you with little to work on.

Hours are Steady

You will not be asked to pull an all-nighter when you work as a dental assistant for a dentist.

This 9-to-5 workweek position generally requires up to 40 work hours a week.

You do not need to work on the weekends or cover long shifts like you might as a waitress or a nurse.

In addition, your paycheck will be steady over a year, which can help you get on track with finances and saving.

Insurance Including Dental Coverage

When you work for a dentist, chances are you get free dental coverage.

This is a major savings as most employers do not offer dental coverage as part of the free healthcare benefits.

Most of the time, dental insurance can be purchased as an add-on for insurance plans.

Therefore, you must pay more for dental coverage, which can be prohibitive to many households’ budgets.

If you work for a dentist as a dental assistant, you may likely receive free treatments and services along with discounts or free dental insurance.

Cons of Being a Dental Assistant


If you do not like teeth or are squeamish about flossing, you might struggle to work as a dental assistant.

This job requires you to clean teeth all day and to look into people’s mouths.

The concept is foreign to those not interested in seeing teeth or tongues.

However, dental assisting is a great profession for the percentage of people who like teeth and are interested in mouths.

Germs and Bacteria

A major aspect of working in dentistry is the removal of germs and bacteria.

When your teeth are cleaned, typically at least twice a year, your dental assistant removes all the bacteria and plaque.

This is your main duty as a dental assistant; sometimes, a human mouth can be nasty and downright dangerous.

Staying ahead of health risks is important since you could also pass on pathogens to patients if you are sick.

As this is a healthcare industry occupation, you must stay updated on immunizations to prevent workplace diseases.

Physical Stamina Involved

Working as a dental assistant means you must stay on your feet most of the day, five days a week.

Walking around and standing still requires more physical stamina than you realize until you do the job for a while.

This can be taxing for people who are not in shape or have a more laissez-faire personality style.

While you will eventually get into shape while working as a dental assistant, the extra exertion can be difficult for some people.

Lack of Independence

You must work for someone else, usually a dentist, most of the day.

That leaves you with little time to do what you want, which is the meaning of independence.

Instead of creating new ideas for patients, you end up doing routine activities and tasks day after day.

This can be boring, especially if you are more creative at heart.

You can advance your career by taking night courses in advanced dental procedures to remedy this concern.

Then, you can start working with an oral surgeon or specifically with patients under 18 using gentle techniques for children.

You Could Get Bitten

Sometimes, when your fingers are in a person’s mouth, they bite.

This could be a reflex or because they are not comfortable, especially when dealing with patients who are children or who are under anesthesia for treatment.

Getting bitten can be traumatic, and being a dental assistant is difficult for individuals already weary of bites.

Of course, most patients will not bite you–but it could happen.

Must Wear a Uniform

You must wear a uniform when working in a dentist’s office.

You most likely will be wearing medical scrubs.

If you like to dress up or be in your pajamas, scrubs may not be your favorite choice.

In addition, you might be bored with wearing the same kind of clothing daily for work.

Some people balk at being forced to wear a uniform since this removes their form of expression.

You might find scrubs uncomfortable to wear, as well as the facial coverings you must wear when working on patients.

Cannot Work Remote

Finally, when working remotely is a hot topic, dental assistants cannot work from home or out of the office.

You need to be right there in the mouths of the patients to get your job done as a dental assistant.

In addition, you are likely to be surrounded by dental assistants and be led by at least one dentist.

This job is not for someone antisocial or easily frightened by others.

Along with the people you work with, you will work one-on-one with patients sitting in a dentist’s chair.

You have to get your hands dirty, so to speak, by being right there with the patients.

Sure, you may have some paperwork required to do from home.

However, due to privacy rights and patient regulations, most of your work will not be outside the office.

14 Pros and Cons of Being a Dental Assistant – Summary Table

Pros of Being a Dental AssistantCons of Being a Dental Assistant
Shorter Training and EducationTeeth
Helping Patients Improve Oral HealthGerms and Bacteria
It’s an Indoor JobPhysical Stamina Involved
White Collar ProfessionLack of Independence
Every Day is DifferentYou Could Get Bitten
Hours are SteadyMust Wear a Uniform
Insurance Including Dental CoverageCannot Work Remote

Should You Become a Dental Assistant?

Working as a dental assistant is a smart career choice for professional adults who are enthusiastic about oral hygiene and dental care.

You can earn a middle-class income and access insurance, including dental coverage.

In addition, your daily workload is consistent and always indoors in an office setting.

You do not have to work from home or remote, and weekends are typically free since most dental clinics are only open five days a week.

If these qualities sound good to you, consider a career as a dental assistant.

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