A career as a dental assistant is nothing if not rewarding. Because of the great demand for qualified dental assistants, there is a great deal of flexibility and variety in terms of the job opportunities. All this means more choices, and that's always a good thing. Most always, a dental assistant will work in the company of a dentist (or dentists in the case of hospital or group settings).
Job responsibilities are varied, but in general you can expect to be responsible for duties that extend from the office to the exam room to the laboratory. It's not unusual for a dental assistant to be required to work with patients' dental records, clean and sterilize dental equipment, and work side by side with a dentist as he's performing a procedure on a patient. You'll always be doing something different so odds are good you won't be bored.
According to government survey data, about half of dental assistants work the regular forty hour work week. The majority of the rest are part time workers, and some actually have multiple part time jobs at different offices and clinics. This is another way to make sure your time spent at work is varied and interesting. Another thing to consider is that depending on where you are working, you may be asked to work weekends, evenings, and holidays to meet the demands of the patients.
Working in a dental practice is not without risk, however. Due to the nature of the work, dental assistants must practice safe habits such as instrument sterilization and universal precautions to avoid spreading any form of infection, either to patients or among office staff. This includes proper disposal of biohazard materials and the wearing of protective equipment including surgical masks, rubber or latex gloves, and proper shielding for x-ray exposure.