How to Become a Dental Assistant

Dental assistant is among the few professions that offer a lot of opportunities regardless of the economic scenario. It offers good earning opportunities, a clean work environment and the ability to help others. The profession is simply innovative and continues to introduce new technology. A dental assistant who learns the trade and stays up-to-date with new advancements not only builds a dynamic career, but even adds great significance to the dental office. These days many dentists in the United States are looking for assistants to perform routine tasks so that they can focus on more complex procedures. In fact, some experts believe and say the demand for dental assistants is rising faster than other professions, and there is enough room for advancement.

Dental assistants usually learn their skills on the job, although many receive training from dental-assisting programs that are offered by community and junior colleges, trade schools or technical institutes in the United States. Today opting for a health care program in dental assistant is emerging as the best and the most preferred option to become a dental assistant. Usually these programs include classroom and lab instruction as well as practical experience in dental schools and generally take a year or less to complete. These dental assistant courses give a working knowledge of the teeth, the mouth, the functioning of various instruments. It may help to increase the starting salary as well. While a one-year programs result in a certificate or diploma, a two-year programs lead to an associate degree. As far as training is concerned, it primarily includes oral anatomy, health, pathology, dental terminology, microbiology, practice management and infection control procedures. Completing all program requirements and being a graduate from the program in surely a good starting.

It is very important and vital to understand that different dentists have their own styles of performing duties. Consequently the assistant with formal education must also adapt to different office’s situation. Adding to this, the next important point that an individual must take care is – every state has different standards and requirements for dental assistants to perform certain advanced duties, or expanded functions like placing amalgam (silver) fillings or rubber cup coronal polishing. The dental assistant program that targets entry-level dental assistant requires a high school diploma or equivalent, and some even oblige science or computer-related courses before admitting a student. Those concerned in making a career as dental assistance must take high school courses in biology, health and office practices.

Apart from all this, student or any individual must ensure that the program, she or he selects from a university must be properly accredited. Today the Commission on Dental Accreditation within the ADA has approved more than 200 dental-assisting training programs. As a result, some states require licensure or registration, which means that a student must pass a written or practical exam. While other states also look for assistants to complete state-approved education courses of 4 to 12 hours in length. In addition to this, there are other states in the United States as well that require assistants undergo continuing education to maintain their licensure or registration. Moreover, today certification is available through the Dental Assisting National Board that acknowledges a dental assistant’s professional competence. Although not all states require dental assistants to gain certification, but becoming certified certainly helps in increasing the earning potential and may give more recognition in the workplace.