Dental Assistants

(NOC 3411)

in All Health

Dental assistants help dentists, dental hygienists, and dental therapists during patient exams and treatment and complete clerical functions. They work in dentists' offices, community health centres, clinics, and in educational institutions.

Job Outlook

Good

Read more

  • Estimate Moderate growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 45 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Low rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Health

  • Estimate 3550 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 6335 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

The employment outlook over the next few years for this occupational group is “good”, which indicates the chances of a qualified individual finding work is better than average when compared to other occupations in Nova Scotia. This is a moderate sized occupation in Nova Scotia, with employment around 800. The number employed in this occupation is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, which will provide additional opportunities for employment. With a moderate percent of workers being 55 years of age and older, retirements are expected to contribute somewhat to employment opportunities over the coming years. Dental Assistants most commonly work full-time hours. Furthermore, the jobs may either be permanent or temporary positions, as both are common. Also, a large percentage of the workforce is self-employed, which should be an important consideration for those thinking about employment in the occupation.

The number of dentists in Nova Scotia has been increasing, resulting in a shortage of dental assistants. Demand for this occupation is very strong with vacancies frequently occurring throughout the province, improving the likelihood that a jobseeker will find employment in the community of their choice. In response to the strong demand for dental assistants, one of the colleges offering dental assisting accreditation added a training location in Dartmouth in 2020. Full-time, part-time, and fill-in positions are available, increasing the chance that applicants will find a position with their preferred number of hours.

Hourly Pay

$18.00

Minimum

$21.00

Median

$25.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$11,685

Minimum

$32,788

Median

$45,443

Maximum

Compared to: All Health

Hourly Pay

$16.70

Minimum

$26.60

Median

$43.30

Maximum

Annual Pay

$10,740

Minimum

$43,853

Median

$88,944

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Dental assistants help dentists, dental hygienists, and dental therapists during patient exams and treatment and complete clerical functions. They work in dentists' offices, community health centres, clinics, and in educational institutions.

Job duties

Dental assistants:

  • Prepare patients for dental examination and help the dentist during the examination.
  • Sterilize and maintain instruments and equipment.
  • Prepare dental instruments and filling materials.
  • Take and develop X-rays.
  • Polish teeth and clinical crowns and apply fluoride and sealant.
  • Take preliminary impressions for diagnostic casts.
  • Make and place temporary crowns and restorations.
  • Educate patients concerning oral hygiene.
  • Invoice patients for dental services.
  • Schedule patient appointments and record dental procedures performed.
  • Order dental and office supplies.
  • May carry out intra-oral duties like remove sutures, take and record vital signs, apply desensitizing agents, topical anesthetic, anticariogenic agents, and apply and remove rubber dams.

Sample job titles

  • dental aide
  • dental assistant
  • dental clinical assistant
  • licensed dental assistant

Skills

  • You should have good interpersonal skills and a desire to help others. Patience and the ability to handle stressful situations may be needed. You must be efficient and accurate, yet sensitive to the needs of patients. Good manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and an aptitude for detailed and precise work are necessary.

Job requirements

  • An eight-month to one-year college or other program in dental assistance, or completion of high school with on-the-job training is required.
  • To become a licensed dental assistant in Nova Scotia, you must complete an accredited Level II Dental Assisting program.
  • Licensing is required to perform intra-oral duties in Nova Scotia.
  • In Nova Scotia the job is regulated by the Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia.

Other considerations

  • In some provinces there are two levels of dental assistants: Level I chair-side assistant and Level II intra-oral assistant. Progression from Level I to Level II is possible with education, training, and licensure.

By the numbers

Quick look

835

employed in 2016

86.2%

employed full-time

0.0%

self employed

99.4%
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0.59999999999999%
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40.8

median age

Compared to: All Health

36,515

employed in 2016

75.7%

employed full-time

9.6%

self employed

83.6%
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16.4%
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43.5

median age

Where will I likely work?

50.9%

Halifax

$33,406 median annual income
13.2%

Southern

$32,132 median annual income
12.6%

Annapolis Valley

$35,615 median annual income
12.0%

Cape Breton

$31,905 median annual income
11.4%

North Shore

$30,279 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

95.9%

Health care and social assistance

2.7%

Educational services

1.4%

Public administration

What is the age of Employment?

26.0%

25-34

24.0%

45-54

23.0%

35-44

14.0%

55-64

12.0%

15-24

1.0%

65+

Compared to: All Health

24.0%

25-34

23.9%

45-54

21.9%

35-44

18.4%

55-64

7.7%

15-24

Top levels of education

79.5%

College Diploma

$32,000 median annual income
9.6%

Trade Certification

$35,880 median annual income
3.6%

High school

N/A
3.6%

Bachelor

N/A
1.8%

Diploma Below Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Health

38.4%

College Diploma

$40,033 median annual income
27.1%

Bachelor

$61,668 median annual income
8.7%

Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary, Optometry

$81,191 median annual income
6.8%

High school

$24,829 median annual income
5.1%

Master

$69,296 median annual income

Education & training

Dental Assistant

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to provide patient care, take dental radiographs (X-ray photographs), prepare patients and equipment for dental procedures, and discharge office administrative functions under the supervision of dentists and dental hygienists. They include courses in medical record-keeping, general office duties, reception and patient intake, scheduling, equipment maintenance and sterilization, basic radiography, pre-operative and postoperative patient care and instruction, chairside assisting, taking tooth and mouth impressions, and supervised practice.

Institutions providing this program

CBBC Career College Inc. - Sydney Campus

Sydney, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

CBBC Career College Inc. - Dartmouth Campus

Dartmouth, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Dental Assistant

Right to Title and Practice: This job is regulated. The job title is protected, and you may not use it without a professional licence. A licence shows that the holder has met provincial requirements and is required to legally do this work.

Regulating body:
Provincial Dental Board of Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS

Contacts

Canadian Dental Assistants' Association
Ottawa, ON
Health Care Human Resource Sector Council
Bedford, NS
Nova Scotia Dental Assistants Association
Halifax, NS