Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant

Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant


When it comes to pursuing a career in healthcare, there are several paths to choose from. Two popular options are becoming a dental assistant or a medical assistant. While both professions involve providing assistance to healthcare professionals, there are some key differences between the two. In this blog post, we will explore what it means to be a dental assistant and a medical assistant, and compare the job descriptions, education and training requirements, and career outlooks for each.

Article continues after recommendations

Recommended for you

What is a Dental Assistant and Medical Assistant?

  • Dental Assistant

    • Dental assistants work alongside dentists and dental hygienists to provide patient care and perform administrative tasks in a dental office.
    • They assist with dental procedures, sterilize instruments, take patient X-rays, and provide chairside assistance during treatments.
    • Dental assistants may also perform office management tasks such as scheduling appointments and maintaining patient records.
  • Medical Assistant

    • Medical assistants work in various healthcare settings, such as clinics and hospitals, and provide support to physicians and other healthcare professionals.
    • They may perform both administrative and clinical tasks, including taking patient medical histories, measuring vital signs, preparing patients for examinations, and assisting with minor surgical procedures.
    • Medical assistants also handle administrative duties such as scheduling appointments, managing medical records, and billing insurance companies.

Difference between a Dental Assistant and Medical Assistant

  • Scope of Practice

    • Dental assistants primarily work in dental offices and focus on oral healthcare.
    • Medical assistants, on the other hand, work in a wider range of healthcare settings and assist with general healthcare procedures.
  • Specialties

    • Dental assistants may choose to specialize in certain areas of dentistry, such as orthodontics or oral surgery.
    • Medical assistants may also specialize in specific fields, such as dermatology or cardiology, depending on the type of healthcare facility they work in.
  • Work Environment

    • Dental assistants typically work in dental offices, which are often small and intimate settings.
    • Medical assistants may work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and specialized medical practices.
  • Patient Population

    • Dental assistants primarily work with patients who require dental care.
    • Medical assistants work with patients of all ages and with a variety of medical conditions.

Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant: Job Description

  • Dental Assistant

    • Dental assistants work closely with dentists and hygienists to provide patient care and support during dental procedures.
    • They prepare treatment rooms, sterilize instruments, and assist with dental procedures such as fillings, extractions, and root canals.
    • Dental assistants may also take patient X-rays, apply fluoride treatments, and provide post-operative instructions to patients.
  • Medical Assistant

    • Medical assistants play a vital role in healthcare settings by performing both administrative and clinical tasks.
    • They take patient medical histories, measure vital signs, and prepare patients for examinations.
    • Medical assistants also assist with minor surgical procedures, administer medications, and perform basic laboratory tests.

Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant: Education and Training

  • Dental Assistant

    • The education and training requirements for dental assistants vary by state.
    • Some dental assistants receive on-the-job training, while others complete a dental assisting program at a vocational school or community college.
    • These programs typically take 9 to 11 months to complete and result in a diploma or certificate.
    • Dental assistants may also choose to become certified by passing the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
  • Medical Assistant

    • Medical assistants typically complete a postsecondary education program, which can take anywhere from 9 to 24 months to complete.
    • These programs are offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and some universities.
    • Upon completion, medical assistants may choose to become certified through organizations such as the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA) or the American Medical Technologists (AMT).

Article continues after recommendations

More recommendations for you

Dental Assistant vs Medical Assistant: Career Outlook and Salary

  • Career Outlook

    • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
    • The demand for dental services is expected to increase as the population ages and as research continues to link oral health to overall health.
    • Employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
    • The growth is attributed to the increasing demand for healthcare services and the expansion of healthcare facilities.
  • Salary

    • According to the BLS, the median annual wage for dental assistants was $40,080 as of May 2020.
    • The median annual wage for medical assistants was $35,850 as of May 2020.
    • The actual salary for dental and medical assistants can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and level of education.

Final Thoughts

Choosing between a career as a dental assistant or a medical assistant ultimately depends on individual preferences and career goals. Both professions offer rewarding opportunities to work in the healthcare field and make a positive impact on patients' lives. It's important to carefully consider the job descriptions, education and training requirements, and career outlooks before making a decision. Researching and speaking with professionals in both fields can also provide valuable insights to help make an informed decision.

Dive into the expansive reach of Dreambound's programs across various locations. For a detailed exploration of the two vocations, visit the suggested blogs to uncover specific requirements and gain valuable perspectives on how to commence your journey effectively.

Winlynd Caballero
Written by
Winlynd Caballero

Winlynd Caballero is a member of Dreambound's Sales team. She helps in handling the company's finullcial transactions, generating reports, and school sales. Beyond her responsibilities in the realm of numbers and business, Winlynd finds herself deeply immersed in a world of art and music.

Share this post: