How To Become a Dental Assistant in Australia
As a Dental Assistant, you help the dentist to keep all the cogs and wheels of the dental practice running nicely. You might help prepare the treatment room, pass instruments to the dentist while he works, clear up after appointments, and other tasks such as sterilising the instruments. You need to have a good understanding of the Dental Practice Act in order to keep an attentive eye over everything making sure the practice is compliant. You play an important role engaging with patients. A friendly word and a smile go a long way to putting the dentist’s patients at ease. Your work may keep you on your feet for much of the day, but the role offers a nice balance of tasks, social interactions. Practical and people-orientated in one job. Dental Assistants hold an excellent professional position, which offers more variety than an office job. Furthermore, you can achieve this job role without having to spend years studying.
Do you like to organise things and carry out task in a methodical way? Are you a friendly empathetic person who likes to engage with people? Can you step up to help your dentist by anticipating in record time what he will need next?
If so, then keep reading to discover the steps you need to take to become a Dental Assistant in Australia.
Step 1: Choose A Course
If your heart is set on becoming a Dental Assistant, then you will need to take a vocational course to get started. Once you've qualified, you can pursue an entry-level job working with supervision. Choose your course and take the first step towards your ideal job.
Step 2: Register with the Dental Hygienist’ Association of Australia (DHAA)
Once you have passed your course, you need to register with the Dental Hygienists' Association of Australia (DHAA) before you can start working. Check out our resources section and see what you will need to do to register with them.
Step 3: Apply for a Job
The time has come to apply for a job. Make sure you take time to optimize your resume and cover letter as you apply for each role. Remember this is a fast-growing industry so there are lots of opportunities out there. If you don't have any luck with the first application, take another look at your documents, optimise, and move on to the next opportunity.
Step 4: Gain Experience
After you have found your first job as a Dental Assistant (well done you), then spend some time, really getting to know your work well. Then, as you perfect your practice, you may want to start considering a specialisation.
Step 5: Consider a Specialisation
Opportunities in the Dental industry are on the increase and as a result, there are many opportunities for career progression.
As a consultant, your work takes a step back from the patient focus and instead you advise and educate health professionals. You may give lectures at health conferences, or you may give presentations at a smaller scale health practice. Usually, you will need to become a Dental Hygienist before you can progress to become a consultant.
Dental Hygienist's specialise in cleaning and taking care of teeth. You apply various teeth cleaning techniques on your patients when they visit. And at the same time, you play an important role educating them in how to maintain cleanliness from home.
Sales and Marketing Manager
If you would like to move away from actually working in the dental environment you may enjoy becoming a Sales and Marketing Manager. There is a high demand for professionals who have knowledge about dental products, as well as sales and marketing knowledge. You will need to study more to learn about sales and marketing.
What Does A Dental Assistant Do?
When you work as a Dental Assistant, you help the dentist to run his practice, taking charge of all the little tasks he can’t get to. This could involve making sure the dentist’s room has been cleaned, and all the equipment has been sterilised. On the other hand, you are there while the dentist works, helping to get patients into position and then passing him tools when he needs them. You may also assist with suctioning out the patients mouth while he works. Sometimes you will help with more technical aspects of the work such as developing x-rays and mixing materials for castes. You play an important role working with the patients, welcoming them in, giving a reassuring word. Often, you need to help educate patients on how to take care of their teeth better, or you may teach them how to take care of their mouth post-operation.
- Using dental equipment and technology
- Welcoming arriving patients and getting them seated
- Keeping track of stock and ordering new supplies
- Assisting the dentist as he works, passing him tools and equipment
- Suctioning while the dentist works
- Placing dental tools in the patient’s mouth
Skills for Success
Dental Assistants need to have an organised approach to their work. Furthermore, they should anticipate and react to assist the dentist as he works. You should have a good bedside manner, and have a friendly attitude without being unprofessional. Dental Assistants also have a technical side to their work, such as using equipment and mixing casts. This mean, you need to handle the technical side of the work as well. You are often up and about on your feet a lot, and this means you should be in reasonably good shape. It's important to lead by example, and therefore, you need to have good hygiene yourself. You need to follow instructions correctly and use your own initiative sometimes too.
Skills & Attributes
- Strong communication skills
- Good personal hygiene and presentation
- A passion for helping and working with people
- Able to work methodically
- Can follow instructions
- Full of energy, in good shape
How much does a Dental Assistant make? The average Dental Assistant can earn $41,000 per year in Australia. This payrate can vary depending on your experience and abilities, this pay rate is only an indicator, according to Payscale 02/18.