Is becoming a dental assistant easy?


A dental assistant needs to perform a variety of healthcare tasks and they need to assist the dentist with procedures. The assistant is a valuable member of the dental healthcare team and their primary duty remains taking dental x rays, scheduling an appointment, maintaining treatment records, and taking care of patients. They help with preparing patients, sterilizing the instruments, setting up rooms, and maintaining dental hygiene tasks. They need to have strong communication skills and should enjoy working with their hand. The dental assistant should follow the regulations of the dental clinic and need to keep the office well organized. They will be responsible for performing basic dental processes and administrative tasks on a full-time basis. If the candidate possesses excellent knowledge of dental practices and oral health, there will be lots of job openings available in healthcare centers.

What does a dental assistant do?

The duties of a dental assistant are most comprehensive and they are responsible to perform tasks following state regulations.

  • Prepare patient to perform dental procedures
  • Help with infection control by sterilizing the instruments, setting up trays, and preparing materials
  • Assist dentist in handling medical emergencies
  • Assist dental hygienist with procedures
  • Take and develop dental radiographs
  • Documents patients medical history and take blood pressure and pulse
  • Provide instruction to patients regarding oral care during surgery
  • Teach patients apt oral hygiene and to maintain oral health
  • Take an impression of the patient’s teeth
  • Perform admin task and update the system
  • Communicate with patients and order supplies
  • Help to provide direct patient care in dental specialties
  • Maintain dental equipment inventory
  • Provide post-operative instructions as directed by the dentists

How to become a dental assistant?

A dental assistant is a professional who needs to support the operation of dental clinics by performing administrative and clinical duties. There are several education paths for aspiring candidates. Some states demand assistants be graduated by completing an accredited program and pass the exam. But normally, the education requirement for a dental assistant is a high school degree or equivalent. Some may pursue their career through on job training. A dental assistant may also join certification programs which will help to grow in their career.

Here are given the steps to become a certified dental assistant.

Step 1: Choose the best education path

A dental assistant program takes nine months to two years to complete depending on whether it’s a certificate, diploma, or a degree. You can join a program either at a community college or technical school. In addition to classroom teaching, most programs include hands-on learning opportunities in a clinical setting. The subjects included in the course are oral anatomy, dental radiography, dental materials, dental pharmacology and radiography, CPR, and first aid.

Step 2: complete and externship and focus

The dental assistant can gain experience by completing an externship. There are numerous programs available for externship which will provide you real-world training opportunities. During this time, students can shape up their skills in several areas. They can look to work in specialized areas of dentistry such as pediatric or orthodontic care. In addition to general dentistry, there are other areas open for experienced and educated dental assistants. This would help students to sharpen their CDA skills and will get enough experience in oral anatomy, dental pathology, radiology, oral hygiene, and make their job application stand out.

Step 3: Gain state certification or license requirement

The certification and license requirement varies from state to state. A dental assistant can become certified by passing the exam that evaluates their knowledge. Most professionals choose to become nationally certified through DANB, and CDA examination. Becoming CDA assures the public that the dental assistant is prepared to assist competently in the provision of dental care. The certificate and license requirements for the CDA exam can differ from state to state. In 39 of these states, certification is necessary, and the three exams will constitute a total of 320 questions. The test has a possible 900 points and the passing score is 400. DANB also offers various dental assistant certifications which include NELDA, CPFDA, CRFDA, and COA. CDA who have obtained certification through the DANB are required to stay up to date based on industry standards. It is good to earn a certification in CPR from a DANB certified provider. All dental assistants must be trained in CPR, basic life service, or advanced cardiac life support.

Step 4: Get other forms of certification and license

In addition to the CDA exam, students may choose to complete the national entry-level dental assistant test, administered by the DANB. Students looking to pursue their career in specialized dental assisting can undertake further certification including preventive function and restorative functions as a dental assistant.

Step 5: Get an entry-level job

Graduates will get a variety of job opportunities either in general dentistry or in specialty areas. Dental assisting is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the US and the number of positions is set to grow 25% nationally by 2022. After working for few years dental assistants may choose to complete an advanced degree. Those who obtain a degree can transfer existing credits to a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene. The 4-year degree option will increase career mobility.

Skills required by Dental Assistant

The graduate must possess few skills to serve them well in their career.

  • Administrative skills
  • Record medical histories
  • Using dental materials
  • Chairside manners
  • Taking x-rays

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