Dental Assistant career is one among healthcare careers that does not require a professional degree. These people are the valued members of the dental care team who works closely with Dentists in all stages of treatment of a patient and is also known by the names Dental Nurse and Dental Chair side Assistant. Dental Assistants are trained personnel who provide chair side assisting, four-handed dentistry, radiology and the use of dental materials in Dental clinic. Dental Assistants greatly increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of quality oral health care. They are the second pair of hands for the dentists. They mix dental materials, provide oral evacuation during dental procedures. It is the duty of the dental assistant to make the patients as comfortable as possible and relaxed for their treatment. They work along with the dentist as they examine and treat patients. They hand instruments and materials to the dentist and keep patients' mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices. Dental Assistants are also involved in the administration of the Dental practice by answering telephones and making appointments. Sometimes dental assistants may be confused with Dental Hygienist as both deal with dental procedures. But both groups perform two different roles. Dental hygienists usually have a higher level of training and expertise and are responsible for cleaning and examining the teeth and gums of a patient and reporting their findings to the dentist. Whereas dental assistants are mainly concerned with preparation of the patient, equipment and instruments. They help both dentists and dental hygienists. Dental assistants performs a variety of assignments and duties and have varied levels of responsibilities during their work. Their major duties and responsibilities involves : • Maintaining and preparing treatment rooms and instruments • Scheduling appointments for patients • Seating and preparing patients for dental treatment • Providing assurance and support for the patient • Maintaining patient dental and medical records • Instructing patients on proper dental hygiene and oral care • Assisting dentists with procedures during treatment • Performing basic laboratory procedures • Sterilizing and disinfecting dental instrument and equipment • Preparing tray setups • Preparing materials for making dental impressions and restorations • Processing x rays • Ordering and delivering dental materials Career as Dental Assistant is one among the healthcare careers that offers great employment opportunity. But at the same time, this career requires relatively minimal educational qualification and training. How to Become a Dental AssistantELIGIBILITY High school / 10th/ 12th candidates with biology, chemistry, health subjects can join for a dental training course to start a career as a dental assistant. There are numerous dental colleges and schools in India, providing training courses on dental-assisting programs. Diploma in Dental Assistance and Dental Operation Room Assistant (DORA) are two main courses in this field. The duration of these courses may vary from 10 months to 2 years, depending on the institute. These courses teaches variety of skills needed for a dental assisting career. The course includes a study of basic body systems and functions, oral anatomy, dental science, dental materials, computer and office applications, and oral radiology in preparation for these job duties. It may also include classroom and laboratory work in which students learn about teeth, gums, jaws and other areas that dentists work on. An internship during the course offers students the opportunity to practice their learned skills in a dental office environment and prepare for their dental assisting career. Skills required for Dental Assistants The most required quality for a dental assistant is the ability to co-operate and work as part of a team. Dental assistants should be sensitive to the emotions of the patients, as they work closely with them. They must have the ability to pay close attention to detail, to put patients at ease and to remain calm under pressure and in emergencies. Strong listening and speaking skills are necessary for communicating with dentists and patients. Excellent organizational and time management skills are also desirable. One should also have good critical thinking skills, which will allow him or her to evaluate alternative solutions to problems. Nature of Work and Job Prospects Dental assistant diploma holders can join in dental clinics. Most dental assistants are employed by dentists in private practices and clinics. On the job training would be provided to them by the dentist. Employment opportunities in this field are excellent, since many dentists employ two or more dental assistants. Dental assistants can practice as both full-time and part-time employee. Generally, most individuals enter the profession as a stepping stone for a more advanced career in dentistry or healthcare. With further education in this field, dental assistants can become dental product sales representatives, dental lab technicians, dental-assisting instructors and even Dental Hygienists. Pay Scale of Dental Assistants Earnings of dental assistants may vary, depending on experience, dental assisting credentials and practice location. Dental assistants earn salaries equal to other health care personnel with similar training and experience such as medical assistants, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants, veterinary technicians and pharmacy assistants. The average pay scale of a dental assistant may vary between 7000 - 8000. Depending on the location and credibility of the clinics and dentists, they can earn much more.