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Carrington College Blog

Specialties you can enter as a dental assistant

January 6, 2015

Here are some niches you can enter as a dental assistant.If you’re enrolled in school to become a certified dental assistant, then you’ve probably already given thought to what you intend to do with your certification after graduation. This is a good step, as you’ll need an effective plan of action to enter the job market.

With that said, you may want to spend some time considering exactly what areas of the dental industry you intend to enter as your career progresses. Mobility can provide interesting, exciting and lucrative career opportunities down the line.

To ensure that you make yourself aware of these prospects and that you are well situated to advance in your career, take a look at some of the specialty practices you can enter as a certified dental assistant:

Pediatric dentistry

According to All Allied Health Schools, certified dental assistants will have the opportunity to enter a pediatric dentistry practice through additional work and certification if they so choose later in their career.1 This provides a great opportunity for those who enjoy working with children to be a part of a specialty practice instead of a general dentist’s office.

As a pediatric dental assistant, you will likely encounter less patients in terms of clientele, but be more involved in each of your patient’s dental care throughout their childhood. While many adults tend to move back and forth between doctors and dentists as they see fit for specialty procedures, children often stay with the same one for years to establish a comfort level. Also, considering the fact that your patient base will stay relatively constant, you can expect your working hours and vacation time to fluctuate less than it might in a general practice.

Becoming a dental hygienist

You’re sure to love your work as a dental assistant, but at a certain point you may want to become more involved with the other aspects of dentistry. For those who find themselves wanting a more thorough role after a few years as an assistant, a career move to a dental hygienist position may be just the thing.

According to PayScale, the primary differences between a dental assistant and a hygienist are that the latter are far more involved in the actual dental work, such as cleaning teeth and administering local anesthetics when necessary.2

Many dental practices will look for potential hygienists who have completed a few years of work in an assistant role. These individuals tend to be more qualified than those who have not worked in this capacity due to their added familiarity with dental procedures. Becoming a dental hygienist while already being an assistant is well worth it, though it does come with its fair share of work.

If you haven’t already, you may need to earn additional certifications as well as potentially enroll in further education. All said and done, it’s a strong career move for a dental assistant with a few years of successful work history under their belt.


While it may seem like a far cry from the position you’ve been studying for, orthodontists also require dental assistants to help them with the day-to-day practices of their office. As a dental assistant in an orthodontist’s office, you’ll be more exposed to working with patients and their dental gear.

For example, you’ll be ensuring that they understand the functionality and purpose of corrective instruments like braces and retainers. You’ll also engage in much of the same work that you would in a traditional dental practice, such as preparing for and administering X-rays or aiding the dentist in selecting their tools for a given procedure.

Again, a move like this may require further certification, but you may find that it is a field that offers you opportunity that makes it all worthwhile.

1) All Allied Health Schools, ‘Where Will a Dental Assistant Career Take You?’, 2015,

2) McKaig, Melissa, PayScale, ‘Dental Assistant Salaries and Career Options’, 11/9/2007,

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