Careers in dental assisting have become more popular today, with a large projected growth in the career field until 2022 and beyond. It is expected that dental assistants will continued to be hired at a career growth rate of over 24 percent. The demand for dental assistants is growing faster than that in other career fields. Dental assistants are needed for their clinical expertise and to provide crucial support help in the dentist’s office.
There are more dental patients today due to younger people taking better care of their teeth beginning at a very young age. Good habits have led to more patients. There is also an increase in the number of dental patients because of improvements in health insurance, with many plans now including dental care as part of the total coverage package.
What Are The Differences Between Dental Assistants And Dental Hygienists?
Both dental assistants and dental hygienists work closely with patients and act in supportive roles. Dental assistants, however, will also do many of the tasks associated with office work, like taking care of patient charts. They may be required to sterilize equipment used in the dentist office and be asked to help with things like making impressions of patients teeth in the form of casts. Dental assistants are a valuable aid to the dentist during procedures and they may take part in some of the teaching of oral hygiene to patients.
Dental hygienists will do some of these things as well, but are usually not involved in office tasks. They will remove all soft and hard deposits from patient’s teeth, and are qualified to administer anesthetics for procedures. They can also be asked to help by removing dressings and sutures when necessary. In addition, they are qualified to put decay preventives and fluorides on teeth. They may also take x-rays of patient’s teeth to help diagnose problems that cannot readily be seen.
How To Become A Dental Assistant
The best path to becoming a dental assistant is to take an accredited course leading to a certification in dental assisting. This credential is known as CDA, or Certified Dental Assistant. An exam is given upon completion of studies and the resulting Certified Dental Assistant certificate is now recognized in at least 37 states. The exam is given by the Dental Assisting National Board, also known as the DANB.
In some states, a person can become a dental assistant through on-the-job training programs conducted by individual dentist offices. However, this is becoming more rare. Many states today are turning to the requirement for official certification before a person can become a dental assistant.
Online Dental Assisting Programs
There are many online dental assisting programs that lead to certification. The best online dental assisting programs to look for are those offered by accredited schools. Dental assisting programs are normally accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, through the American Dental Association. The Certificate Dental Assistant, or CDA certificate, is usually awarded once a student has completed an accredited program and has gained some experience in dental assisting.
Online courses help prove that a student is capable of working independently. A student will also need a lot of self-motivation to complete online course work. Many students prefer taking online courses because of the flexibility they offer, and the ability to do coursework from any place without a need to commute to a campus. Busy students can also keep up their other commitments while completing their online course work to earn their dental assistant certificate. Courses can be found that are anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent online.
Educational Requirements To Become A Certified Dental Assistant
Most educational programs leading to a certification as a professional dental assistant are about one year in length and lead to either a diploma or certificate. There are also programs completed as a two-year associates degree program in professional dental assisting. A student must then pass an exam to receive their certificate.
In some states, students may also need either two years of full-time experience working as a dental assistant, or four years working in a part-time capacity. Students can usually start work as a dental assistant immediately after graduation from a professional dental assisting program.
Skills Required And Certification
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Students wishing to become professional dental assistants must be able to work well with patients and be able to work effectively within a busy and active dental office environment. Dental assistants are often on their feet for the majority of their day and are required to do tasks ranging from office work to equipment sterilization, to educating patients. The job is always interesting and varied and requires a person to be adaptable to many roles.
To become a certified dental assistant, students first need to complete all coursework through an accredited program leading to a diploma or certificate in professional dental assisting. In addition, they will need to pass the exam given by the Dental Assisting National Board, or the DANB.
Registered Dental Assistant
Those who have completed their diploma or certificate in dental assisting classroom program, and who have passed the exam for certification as a professional dental assistant are well qualified to find work as registered dental assistants. This is a growing career field, presently growing at a faster rate than many other career fields. The job outlook is very positive for at least the next 20 years and beyond as more people seek professional dental care.
Professional dental assistants can expect to earn about $27,000 a year on the low-end of the pay scale, to over $41,000 per year on the higher end of the scale. Dentists will always rely on the services of professional dental assistants to help their practice run more smoothly. Dental assistants help by enabling dentists to give exceptional service to their patients. Once students have earned their professional dental assisting certification, they will have a valuable, useful skill to offer the marketplace for many years to come.