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Open Wide To A New Career In Dentistry

Even if you hate going to the dentist, you can still reap the benefits of working for one. Trained dental hygienists and assistants cover a wide range of jobs in oral health facilities, from clerical tasks to exam assistance and laboratory work. All dental positions are projected to have stellar growth through 2014; in fact, both hygienists and dental assistants rank among the fastest-growing professions in the U.S.

You can earn a dental assistant's certificate or diploma in less than a year. An associate's degree in dental hygiene or dental assistance requires just two years of study. While both paths lead to opportunities in dental clinics or specialty practices (such as periodontics or pediatric dentistry), their responsibilities are not the same.

Dental Assistant

The duties of dental assistants fall under three main categories: patient care, office work, or laboratory tasks. Considered an entry-level job, many dental assistants use their experience as a catalyst to other occupations in the oral health field, such as dental-assisting instructor, office manager, or dental sales representative. Others combine their experience with an associate's or bachelor's degree in dental hygiene to be eligible for higher pay and more challenging duties. Graduates of dental assistant training programs can earn up to $20 an hour.

Dental Hygienist

The duties of a dental hygienist tend to be more complex than those of a dental assistant. In addition, much of a hygienist's work is done without supervision, making the hygienist a primary caregiver. This higher level of responsibility is rewarded with significant benefits: hygienists enjoy flexible scheduling and may only work 2-3 days per week if they choose. Their hourly pay can top $40.

In addition to the great earnings potential of a career in dentistry, you can look forward to job stability and the satisfaction of helping people. Dental assistant and dental hygiene degree programs are available throughout the nation - in one or two years, you could be easing the pain of all the others who hate going to the dentist, too.

Programs to Consider: