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Career and Education Opportunities for Dental Assistants in Las Cruces, New Mexico

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for dental assistants in the Las Cruces, New Mexico area. There are currently 1,780 jobs for dental assistants in New Mexico and this is projected to grow by 23% to 2,190 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for dental assistants are expected to grow by about 35.8%. In general, dental assistants assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

Dental assistants earn approximately $14 per hour or $30,080 annually on average in New Mexico. Nationally they average about $15 per hour or $32,380 annually. Incomes for dental assistants are better than in the overall category of Medical and Dental Assistance in New Mexico, and better than the overall Medical and Dental Assistance category nationally. People working as dental assistants can fill a number of jobs, such as: orthodontic assistant, dental office manager, and oral surgery assistant.

There is one school within twenty-five miles of Las Cruces where you can study to be a dental assistant, among six schools of higher education total in the Las Cruces area. Dental assistants usually hold a post-secondary certificate, so it will take a short time to learn to be a dental assistant if you already have a high school diploma.


Dental Assistant video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, dental assistants assist dentist, set up patient and equipment, and keep records.

Dental assistants ready patients, sterilize and disinfect instruments, prepare instrument trays and assist dentists during dental procedures. They also expose dental diagnostic x-rays. Equally important, dental assistants have to provide postoperative instructions prescribed by dentists. They are often called upon to pour and polish study casts. They are expected to record treatment data in patient archives. Finally, dental assistants order and monitor dental supplies and apparatus inventory.

Every day, dental assistants are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to understand what others are saying to them even in a noisy environment. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for dental assistants to take and record medical and dental histories and vital signs of patients. They are often called upon to instruct patients in oral hygiene and plaque control programs. They also clean and polish removable appliances. They are sometimes expected to schedule appointments, ready bills and receive payment for dental services, complete insurance forms, and maintain records, manually or using computer. Somewhat less frequently, dental assistants are also expected to apply protective coating of fluoride to teeth.

and make preliminary impressions for study casts and occlusal registrations for mounting study casts. And finally, they sometimes have to clean and polish removable appliances.

Like many other jobs, dental assistants must have a strong concern for others and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Las Cruces include:

  • Medical Assistant. Perform administrative and certain clinical duties under the direction of physician. Administrative duties may include scheduling appointments, maintaining medical records, billing, and coding for insurance purposes. Clinical duties may include taking and recording vital signs and medical histories, preparing patients for examination, drawing blood, and administering medications as directed by physician.
  • Medical Equipment Technician. Prepare, sterilize, or clean laboratory or healthcare equipment. May perform routine laboratory tasks and operate or inspect equipment.
  • Psychiatric Aide. Assist mentally impaired or emotionally disturbed patients, working under direction of nursing and medical staff.


New Mexico State University-Dona Ana - Las Cruces, NM

New Mexico State University-Dona Ana, 3400 S Espina, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001. New Mexico State University-Dona Ana is a medium sized university located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 8,336 students. New Mexico State University-Dona Ana has a one to two year program in Dental Assisting/Assistant which graduated fourteen students in 2008.


Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon Associate Fellow: Your Associate Fellow certificate lets your patients know that you are an experienced, credentialed implant professional.

For more information, see the American Academy of Implant Dentistry website.

Registered Dental Assistant: A Dental Assistant is an integral member of the dental health team, competent via education, experience, and understanding of patient welfare.

For more information, see the American Medical Technologists website.

Certified Othodontic Assistant: The COA examination in Orthodontic Assisting was added in 1986 to offer credentialing for assistants specializing in orthodontic assisting procedures.

For more information, see the Dental Assisting National Board website.

Certified Dental Technician: Certification is the process of assessing a dental technician's knowledge and applied skill level necessary to perform the tasks required of a dental technician.

For more information, see the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology website.


Dental Assistants

Licensing agency: NM Board of Dental Health Care & NM Dental Hygienists Committee
Address: PO Box 25101, Santa Fe, NM 87504-5101

Phone: (505) 476-4680
Website: NM Board of Dental Health Care & NM Dental Hygienists Committee


Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico photo by Yassie

Las Cruces is situated in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. It has a population of over 91,865, which has grown by 23.7% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Las Cruces, 89, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Las Cruces are valued at $133,900 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, six hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Las Cruces, down from nine hundred eighty the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Las Cruces are educational services, health care, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is educational services, public administration, and construction. The average commute to work is about 18 minutes. More than 28.4% of Las Cruces residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 12.1%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Las Cruces is 5.6%, which is less than New Mexico's average of 7.5%.

The percentage of Las Cruces residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 77.3%, is more than both the national and state average. Mesilla Park Baptist Church, Greater Saint John Church of God in Christ and Valley View Baptist Church are among the churches located in Las Cruces. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church.

Las Cruces is home to the Mesquite Street Original Townsite Historic District and the Walden Hall as well as Frenger Park and Preciado Park. Visitors to Las Cruces can choose from Scoggin Blue LLC, SpringHill Suites Las Cruces and Villa Del Telshor Apartments & Corporate Suites for temporary stays in the area.