How to Become a Certified Dental Assistant

Certified dental assistants offer both clerical and clinical support in professional dental office settings. They learn the fundamentals of good oral health and how to interact with patients by obtaining an associate’s degree in dental assisting. This type of program is usually offered through a vocational school or 2-year community college and is designed to give aspiring students a strong foundation in dental assistant duties and dental office procedures.

Students learn how to successfully identify, clean, and maintain basic dentistry equipment. They also learn the fundamentals of oral health maintenance and dental radiology and need to complete a practical, supervised course covering chairside assistance and dental assisting methods before they’re allowed to graduate.

Program Coursework

Most dental assisting courses offered within a corresponding educational program are somewhat practical in nature and give students the necessary skill sets they need in order to obtain certification. Some of the courses include the following:

• Dental materials
• Chairside assisting
• Dental radiology
• Dental language
• Oral anatomy
• Basics of dental profession
• Dental lab procedures
• Dentist office procedures
• CPR and First-Aid techniques
• Clinical chairside practicum


Most U.S. states require all dental assistants to obtain a license by successfully completing a professional educational training course or passing a corresponding series of exams. Most states recognize CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) certification.

Educational Prerequisites

Aspiring dental students who wish to earn certification in dental assistance are required to have a high school diploma or obtain their GED. Students who earned good grades in English communications, social sciences, and mathematics will probably excel in the program.

Opportunities for Career Advancement

Education is a must to advance in virtually any field of work; otherwise, advancement for individuals wanting to move forward in their career is nearly impossible. A dental assistant may choose a variety of positions including an office manager, insurance claims processor, or sales representative. They can also return to school in order to train for positions as dental hygienists as well.

Advanced Jobs for Dental Assistants

For those dental assistants who want work in radiology, different from other typical dental assisting duties, a program course in radiation technology must be completed first. Applicants should contact their state’s dental assistance board to determine if there’s any official requirements needed for performing specific radiological procedures.