How to become a dental assistant

How to become a dental assistant

A dental assistant is someone who works under the supervision of dentists. The main task involves helping the dentist to conduct procedures as well as ensuring that the office operates smoothly. Some of the procedures may involve passing the requested tools to the dentist, preparing the working area and suctioning the patient’s mouth. Procedures performed by a dental assistant may differ depending on the state. For instance, in some states, only registered assistants can perform coronal polishing or take x-rays.

Dental assistants are also allowed to sterilize the tools to be used in a specific operation, make casts of a client’s teeth. Other tasks include keeping records, billing and scheduling appointments.


For you to become a qualified dental assistant, you must complete a certificate program or a dental assistant diploma in a credible college. These programs only lasts for one year together with internship.

During the course of the program, a dental assistant is required to complete units such as dental sciences, dental pharmacology, orofacial anatomy, dental radiography, dental office administration, infection control and dental material. The topics are studied in laboratory and classroom settings. The students will have the opportunity to complete an externship program so that they experience the real dental office settings.

What are the licensure and certification requirements?

Certification or licensure requirements always vary by state and country. Most states require all the dental assistants to have certification from the Dental Assisting National Board. For you to qualify to become a Certified Dental Assistant, you must meet eligibility requirements for experience and education. One must graduate from an accredited dental assistant program. You can also be eligible if he has more than 3400 hours of approved work experience.

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There are three component examinations that students who meet education requirements do. One of the topics is the GC exam which entails patient management, dental materials, collecting and recording data, procedures, office operations and patient education. The second exam is the ICE which covers infection control. The last exam is the RHS which covers radiation safety and health.

You’ll note that various states will require candidates to excel in state-specific examinations and the CDA exams . Passing this exams assures you of a state license.

DANB also offers certifications for those who choose to specialize in other types of dental work. You can become a Restorative Functions Dental Assistant, Orthodontic Assistant, or a Preventive Functions Dental Assistant.

What is the salary of a dental assistant?

Statistics show that dental assistants in America earn an average of $38,000. In 2012, the least paid dental assistant were making around $23,550 and the most paid earned around $ 50,000. The pay keeps on rising after every year due to the high demand of certified Dental Assistants.

Job and Career prospects for a dental assistant

According to the bureau of labor statistics, it is expected that the employment of dental assistants will increase by 20-30 percent by 2020. This growth is attributed to the increase need of oral care, dental insurance and access to health.

For those who would wish to pursue additional education, they will have the chance to become dental laboratory technicians, dentists, or dental hygienists.  For you to become a dentist, you have to complete a 4-year degree program. Dental hygienist and laboratory technician require to complete a bachelor’s or associate degree.

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