We’ve all sat in the dentist’s chair…at least once, but what really goes on behind the scenes?

Group of Dental Workers

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Every workplace is different for sure, as people have their own way of running things, but here are a few things you need to know that should be true no matter when you land that first dental job!

#1 – It’s Fast Paced!

Most dentist’s offices are fast-paced environments. They run to tight, efficient schedules. Every patient is usually given a certain amount of time depending on what their appointment is for. Somebody having a root canal will have more time scheduled than someone coming in for a regular checkup, but there’s not much extra time for mistakes or unexpected issues!

#2 – You’re Part of a Team!

A great dental office needs a great team working together to make it all work. An efficient team of dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, receptionists and lab technicians keeps everyone on schedule, the patients happy and the office working smoothly. So being accountable, responsible and able to work as part of a team is a must-have skill.

#3 – It’s Patient Focused!

Two Dental Workers with Child Patient

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An office might be run to a tight schedule, but the patients’ needs should always come first. Some patients may be more difficult than others, especially if a trip to the dentist is something they’re scared of. Part of your job is to make patients feel comfortable, cared for and at home, never rushed. Some offices might tag patient files with notes to help the team prepare for their next appointment. To work in a dental office you’ve got to be friendly, calm and compassionate…you’ll need to use all your people skills.

#4 – Education Every Day!

A good education is one that never stops. Health care is always changing, and if you work in dentistry then you’ve got to keep up with new techniques, tools and technology. So if you get a job in a good dental office, it’s likely that your education will continue way past your college graduation date…and that’s a really good thing!

It’s not just your education you’ll get to advance. As an assistant or hygienist, you’ll be educating others every day. Working in a dental office isn’t just about working with patients in pain or providing preventative treatment. Patient education is a big part of the job, as Carrington Dental Hygiene program graduate Katie explains;

“The biggest part of the job that I enjoy is patient education, teaching patients about dental health. A lot of people don’t know how your oral health affects your body.”

Scared Child with Two Dental Workers

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#5 – There’s Always Admin!

Many jobs come with administrative duties, and working in a dental office is no different. Dental assistants are asked to do a variety of administrative tasks every day. There could be office management tasks, scheduling appointments, working with suppliers – a bunch of different stuff. Dental hygienists have their share of admin too, including updating patient records and dental charting and scheduling a patient’s next appointment.

#6 – No Surprises!

No matter where you land your first dental job, not much should come as a surprise if you’ve been through a Dental Assisting or Dental Hygiene program at Carrington College. Why? Because Carrington Dental Assisting [1] and Dental Hygiene students benefit from real-world experience (on an externship or clinical rotation) while they’re still at school.

Two Dental Workers

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That’s cool because it means you can get all the surprises out of the way before you start earning a paycheck! It’s a really great experience, a chance to learn how dental offices really work before you do it for real! It’s kind a of a sneak peak, and who doesn’t like that! It means you should be well prepared when you get your first job, as Dental Hygiene student Eric explains;

“It’s good to have that experience because it’s going to help facilitate the integration into our professional careers. It’s just going to help the transition go a lot smoother.”

Does it sound like a dental assistant or hygienist career would work for you? Then what are you waiting for? To learn more about programs at Carrington College, click here.


[1] Important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rate of students who attended this program can be found at carrington.edu/GE/.

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