Dental assistants are valuable members of the dental team. These dental professionals provide a broad range of services to support both the administrative staff and the dentist.
Additionally, while some regions do not require formal licensure for dental assistants, there are a few who require such. This implies that the educational path required for dental assistants varies.
It can actually take from nine months up to two years to complete a dental assisting program. The time frame of becoming a dental assistant depends on whether the end-goal is a degree or certificate.
Confirming appointments, scheduling, ordering dental supplies, and maintaining the records of the patient are just some of the administrative tasks a dental assistant will perform.
Meanwhile, a dental assistant’s clinical duties comprise of sterilizing instruments, handing tools to the dentist during examination and dental treatment, processing X-rays, operating suction devices, and making impressions for dental fixtures.
Factors to consider before becoming a dental assistant:
When one decides to pursue a career as a dental assistant, they need to meet some requirements prior to entering this specific area:
Decide the best educational path.
Students commonly complete a dental assistant program in a technical school or a community college. Costs from school to school may vary dramatically. The programs usually take 1 or 2 years to complete.
Aside from classroom learning, several programs offer hands-on learning opportunities that are done in a clinical setting.
Complete an externship.
In order to obtain vast experience, an externship is a must. Externships offer temporary training in the workplace. A lot of academic programs offer externships as a mandatory component of coursework. These offer real life-applicable training opportunities.
By completing such, a student can significantly enhance their skills in dental pathology, oral hygiene, chairside assistance, radiology, oral anatomy, and dental pharmacology.
Select a focus.
Dental assistants can specialize in various fields of oral care. Apart from general dentistry, other fields open to dental assistants include periodontics, dentofacial orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, endodontics, and maxillofacial surgery.
Complete licensing or state certification requirements.
Requirements for licensure and certification differ by state. One may delve into these mandates through visiting the Dental Assistant National Board’s website or getting in touch with the state dental board.
Students commonly pass the DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant exam in states where certification is required. Meanwhile, students who did not pass the exam may complete more certification preparation courses and training modules before taking the exam again.
Consider undertaking other forms of licensure or certification.
One may decide to complete the National Entry Level Dental Assistant exam. Students who hope to work in specialized dental assisting career may opt for further certifications to become a preventive functions dental assistant, orthodontic dental assistant, and restorative functions dental assistant.
Land an entry-level job.
Consider having a variety of job opportunities either in a specialty field or in general dentistry setting. Dental assisting is considered one of the most rapidly growing jobs in the USA.
Return to school and consider getting an advanced degree after working for several years.
In so doing, one may enjoy a greater earning potential and benefit from increased career mobility.