If you find yourself interested in a career in the dental field, working as a dental assistant is a great place to start. You can begin a very rewarding and secure career and you can also advance further into other positions in the field of dentistry if you desire. The choice of where to acquire your education to become a valuable member of a dental team is very important. Be sure to check with your state to determine if there is a requirement to graduate from a formal dental assistant education program before planning your new career path.
Even though your state may not require this formal type of education to begin your career in dental assisting, you may opt to enroll to gain the knowledge and experience to obtain a better position in an established dental practice. There are many dental assisting programs to choose from, and choosing the right one for you is a big decision. There are many factors to take into consideration, with cost always being a concern. In the paragraphs below, you will find tips and useful information to aid in your educational decision. Let’s get started!
Research Your State’s Dental Assisting Requirements
Researching and learning the requirements of a career as a Dental Assistant in the state in which you live is the first step in determining your educational path. In most states, no education or training is required to work as a dental assistant. Some states do have training and exam requirements dental assistants must complete performing the duties of a dental assistant. The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) is one of the most comprehensive resources available on state requirements, DANB exams, and certifications.
Choosing the Type of Dental Assistant School
After doing your research on your state’s requirements, you must take a look at the different choices of education programs that exist. Listed below are several paths you have to choose from. Find and begin to follow the path that best suits your needs.
CODA – Accredited Dental Assisting Programs
There are some types of dental assisting programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). They are of high quality and are considered the “gold standard” for dental assisting education. CODA-accredited programs are ones required or recognized by state dental boards. Graduating from one of these 255 CODA-accredited programs makes you eligible to earn DANB’S Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification.
State Approved Dental Assisting Programs
There are some states who do recognize state dental board-approved dental assisting programs and courses to meet dental assisting requirements. Some state dental boards publish a list of courses and programs approved by the state. Visit your state’s dental board website to look up your state dental assisting requirements or search to see if your state publishes such a list.
DANB-Accepted Dental Assisting Programs for NELDA Certification
Dental assistants who are new to the profession or don’t have the education or work experience to earn CDA certification may be eligible to earn DANB’S NELDA certification. You may want to consider looking into one of these types of DANB-accepted programs if this meets your criteria.
Other Dental Assisting Programs
If you have the opportunity, it is best to attend a CODA-accredited program, approved dental board or state department of environmental regulation program, or DANB-recognized program. If this type of education is not available to you, make sure the school is accredited by a federal government agency for their state. The United States Department of Education has a tool online to determine if the dental assisting school is accredited.
The right dental assisting training program for you should give you the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to be a success in the field of dentistry. Choose the one that allows you to meet others in the field and gives you opportunities to make connections. The dentist or another dental professional who hires you will require you to have some specific knowledge. Basic knowledge about the anatomy of teeth and mouth, dental illnesses, dental instruments, dental procedures, how to recognize a medical emergency, assessing and documenting patient information, bloodborne illnesses and how to prevent the spread, x-ray machine operation, and safety procedures is a must.
You will also need to perform certain skills in an emergency such as CPR. Having these skills below will also help you transition more easily into a new dental assistant position:
- assisting with dental cleaning
- assisting with exams and x-rays
- sanitizing and arranging dental instruments
- filling out patient information
- sorting and organizing patient information
- reading and understanding insurance forms
Once you’ve acquired all this knowledge, you will need to practice these things through hands-on experience. It will also be helpful to have connections in the field of dentistry to help you get the right job. When you are researching all the things to assist you in making the appropriate choice for your education, don’t forget to take into account the reputation of the dental assisting program you are about to pursue. This will help give your resume extra consideration when you finish the program you chose and start your career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates about $41,000 or $19.80 per hour as the median annual wage for dental assistants. The opportunities for employment for dental assistants are projected to grow about 7 percent over the next decade. So this is a great time and way to get started in the dental field.
Individuals looking for a career that will greatly impact their income and livelihood who are hard-working, dependable, and professional can begin their new career by contacting SPS Dental Academy. Their approach to teaching has helped thousands of students begin their careers in the dental field. They offer the most efficient and affordable education so you can become confident and successful in your new career. Your future is waiting!