How to Become a Dentist Assistant – Overview
How to become a dental assistant? If you are wondering the same, you need to know that there are several paths to becoming a dental assistant.
A dental assistant performs administrative and clinical duties and supports the dentist in their work by scheduling appointments, sterilizing instruments, taking x-rays, and preparing patients.
Dental assisting is a popular career with a positive outlook. It has a projected employment growth, including job stability, quick entry to the workforce, and the ability to help others.
Therefore, a dental assistant must have great levels of skill and attention to detail.
How to Become a Dentist Assistant? – Educational Requirements & Qualities
In the United States, some states require dental assistants to graduate from an accredited program. On the other hand, in some states, no formal education requirements are needed; Dental assistants learn their jobs through on-the-job training.
Typically, the minimum educational requirement for dental assistants is a high school degree. Some dental assistants may pursue a dental assisting career through post-secondary education or on-the-job training. Dental assistants may also acquire certifications to improve their job prospects.
Usually, states do not require licenses for entry-level dental assistants. However, to perform expanded duties, states require dental assistants to be registered, licensed, or earn certifications from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
To obtain DANB certification, applicants must pass an exam. The dental assistants must either have a high school diploma, complete the required amount with work experience, or graduate from an accredited program. Applicants should also have current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation(CPR).
Qualities for Dental Assistants
To become a dental assistant, one must inculcate the following qualities:
- Detail Oriented
- Interpersonal skills
- Listening skills
- Organizational skills
How to Become a Dentist Assistant? – A Step-by-Step Guide
After deciding on becoming a dental assistant, students need to meet several requirements. Follow the step-by-step guide to becoming a dental assistant.
Step 1. Decide on Educational Path
Students enter a technical school or a community college to complete a dental assistant program. Depending on the diploma, certificate, or associate degree, the program can take one to two years to complete. Additionally, most programs also provide hands-on learning opportunities in a clinical setting.
Step 2. Complete an Externship
To gain more experience, dental assistants complete an externship. It is a great time for students to hone and acquire skills in oral anatomy, chair-side assisting, radiology, dental pathology, oral hygiene, and dental pharmacology. It is an opportunity for the students who aspire to work in specialized areas of dentistry, such as orthodontic care or pediatric.
Step 3. Focus on Specialization
Dental assistants can choose their specialization in many different areas of oral care that include endodontics, pediatric dentistry, maxillofacial surgery, periodontics, prosthodontics, and dentofacial orthodontics.
Step 4. Fulfill Licensing Requirements and State Certification
Certification and license requirements vary by state. To learn more, visit the Dental Assistant National Board’s website.
In states where certification is necessary, students are required to pass the DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination. The candidates must score 400 or better to be certified.
Step 5. Undertake Further Certification or Licensure
Students who aspire to work in specialized dental assisting may choose to prepare for the National Entry Level Dental Assistant test after the CDA examination.
Step 6. Dental Assistant Position
In the United States, graduates have various job opportunities in a general dentistry setting or a specialty area. It is one of the fastest-growing occupations with much higher job growth
Step 7. Pursuing Advanced Degree
After working for some years, dental assistants may choose to return to school for an advanced degree. It opens the door for greater earning potential and increased career mobility.
Dental Assistant Training Programs
Students aiming for a career in dental assisting have multiple educational paths. Diploma and certificate programs are great options for students looking to enter the workforce quickly. Students interested in becoming dental hygienists should consider completing an associate degree.
Diploma or Certificate Course
The course equips graduates with the foundational skills that are required for entry-level positions. It includes studies in radiography, oral anatomy, dental materials, office administration, and basic communication skills. Coursework usually gets completed within nine to 12 months for full-time students.
Associate Degree takes two-year providing a more holistic and in-depth education. Students, along with general education coursework, take core dental assisting classes. After completing an associate program in dental assisting, graduates possess an assortment of skills that serves them well in their careers.
The demand for preventive dental services is increasing. Therefore, to work more efficiently, the dentists will continue to hire dental assistants.
The rapid growth in dental practices increases the need for dental assistants.
With this, many students are nowadays interested in knowing how to become a dental assistant? Well, then you need to follow the step-to-step guidelines, and there you go.
The career of dental assistants and dentists will continue growing with the increase in the need for dental care.