If you’ve ever done even a little bit of research into the dental assisting industry, you’ve likely come across two main job titles: Dental Assistants and Expanded Functions Dental Assistants. Do they mean the same thing or are they different jobs? Below we’ll discuss the differences between these two roles.
Dental assistants prepare patients for treatment and assist dentists with dental procedures. While specific job duties vary by state and the office they work in, general duties include:
• Managing patient records
• Scheduling patient appointments
• Instructing patients on how to maintain good dental hygiene
• Sterilizing instruments
• Cleaning teeth
Expanded Functions Dental Assistants
Dental assistants can become extended functions dental assistants (EFDAs) and perform advanced duties. EFDAs can perform all the duties of a dental assistant, in addition to certain advanced duties which will, again, vary by state, dental office employed in, and specific certification(s) attained.
EFDAs can get certified in specific specialty areas, such as a certified preventive functions dental assistant, certified preventive orthodontic assistant, or certified restorative functions dental assistant. Depending on the EFDA’s certification, duties may include:
• Performing coronal polish
• Applying sealants
• Administering anesthesia
• Applying fluoride
• Performing certain orthodontic work
Job Outlook for Dental Assistants
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not isolate the job outlook or report income information for EFDAs, they do report that employment for dental assistants is expected to increase 18% over the next 10 years which is much faster than the average for all occupations and they call the job prospects to be good. And since an EFDA has additional skills and training, it is fair to conclude that they can do well also.
There are several reasons for this positive job outlook for dental assitants in general and EFDAs in particular. Dentists will continue to hire more dental assistants to perform routine tasks so they can see more patients. In addition, the number and size of dentail practices are projected to keep growing. Also, as the number of people with access to health insurance increase there will me more people with dental insurance coverage. These trends are point to increased demand over time for EFDAs.
This job outlook data is a good starting point to figuring out how much you could make as an EFDA, since becoming certified is the first step to becoming an EFDA. Regardless of the specific compensation, it is expected that EFDAs will make a higher salary than dental assistants due to the additional training they receive.
For detailed information on compensation for dental assistants from the bls.gov site you can visit the bls.gov site here.