What to Expect From a Dental Assistant Career
Finding an accredited educational dental assisting program is easy, and it’s the first step in training to become a dental assistant. It’s a career choice many men and women make because it’s respected, it pays well, and it provides a comfortable future for those looking to choose a profession. Dental assistants play a vital role in the day-to-day operation of any dental office. Their job is to assistant dentists with their regular job by performing tasks they’re specially trained to perform. Good oral health is vital to a person’s overall health, and helping patients maintain good oral health is just one of the many job perks associated with the title dental assistant.
What is a Dental Assistant?
The job description of a dental assistant is easy to understand. It’s clear the certification dental assistants need to take on this job is necessary considering the detailed description of the job. Dental assistants typically handle the following:
- Taking x-rays
- Developing x-rays
- Assistant the dentist in treatment
- Taking patient medical history
- Taking patient blood pressure
- Developing infection protocol
- Assisting patients who need comfort
- Assisting patients with proper hygiene control
- Direct patient care
- Office management tasks
How to Train to Become a Dental Assistant
The first step to becoming a trained dental assistant is finding an accredited program in which to train. You can do this through any online programs available in your area or in a classroom setting. Most people choose the option that works best with their schedule and their learning style. Not everyone can handle online courses, and not everyone can make it into a classroom to learn. The beauty of college level training for a career of this nature is it’s designed to work for all schedules. It makes a career-change or multitasking as an employee, parent, and student as effortless as possible.
The first step in training is deciding whether online or classroom learning is best for you. The program to become a trained dental assistant takes approximately two years to complete. It could take less time depending on whether or not you want a certificate or an associate’s degree. Throughout your coursework, you’ll also take part in an externship focusing on the subject matter you hope to pursue. This entails a number of different tasks, and most of them depend on the program you chose.
Learn your certification process. Each state has a number of different requirements, so you need to learn which are required of you. Most every state requires all dental assistants obtain a certificate before they are employed. This is issued when students successfully complete a test called the CDA, or Certified Dental Assistant Exam. It’s comprised of 320 questions worth 900 points. You can retake this exam as required to pass. If you’re specializing in a dental field, most states require you become licensed as either an Orthodontic, Preventative Functions, or Restorative Functions Dental Assistant. Once you achieve this certificate, you are eligible to seek employment with a dental facility.
Many people who work as a dental assistant make the decision to further their degree path by taking courses to become a dental hygienist. It’s a four-year program, but all the credit hours and courses taken to become a dental assistant are transferred over as already completed when and if you choose to pursue this career path.
What to Expect Following Training
Once you choose where you want to attend classes and how you want to study, you’ll wonder if it’s worth it to you to spend so much time learning and studying. Dental assistant salaries depend greatly on where you live and who you work for, but the average salary is $35,980 as of 2015. The career path is a very flexible one that allows assistants to work full-time or part-time, which is why so many people choose this path.