Duties and responsibilities
Orthodontic assistants provide chairside assistance to Orthodontists and ensure that patients are well-informed about orthodontic procedures, and aftercare. Their duties will vary slightly to a general dental assistant and orthodontic assistants tend to have duties and responsibilities such as:
- Maintaining accurate records of patients oral health history and treatment progress
- Sterilizing equipment before each use
- Taking intraoral x-rays of a patients’ mouth
- Taking photos of a patients’ teeth
- Taking dental molds of a patients teeth
- Removing and replacing wires, coil springs, donuts and elastic bands
- Educating patients on proper oral hygiene
Requirements for orthodontic dental assistants will vary slightly between states. However, in general, orthodontic dental assistants will need a high school diploma followed by an associates degree in dental assisting. They may also need to be certified as an Orthodontic Assistant by the Dental Assisting National Body (DANB).
Skills and relevant work experience
As well as the relevant qualifications, orthodontic dental assistants will need skills such as:
- Dexterity, as a persons mouth is a small space and orthodontic dental assistants need to be able to operate tools in this area
- Communication skills, as orthodontic assistants need to communicate with patients and with the dentists and hygienists in their team
- Organizational skills, as orthodontic assistants need to organize patient records and schedules
- Physical stamina, as orthodontic assistants may have to stand up or bend over in awkward positions for long periods of time
Generally orthodontic assistants work similar hours to orthodontist, which is around 40 hours a week. However, orthodontic assistants may also be able to find part time work too.
According to talent.com, the average annual salary of an orthodontic assistant in the United States in $39,000 per year. At the lower end, orthodontic assistants earn around $27,300 per year. Whereas at the higher end, they earn around $50,700.
Like most dental assistants, orthodontic assistants do not have a huge amount of career progression. With more experience and knowledge, however, they may progress to be in charge of teaching and mentoring new dental assistants.