Whether you’re considering a job change or just starting your journey in the dental field, you might be curious about what qualifications you need to become a successful dental assistant.
In this article, we aim to answer just that. We will guide you through the essentials of what qualifications and skills are needed to start your career in this profession.
So, let’s get started on this journey of learning everything you need to know about a Dental Assistant.
Dental assistants are members of the dental healthcare team who are responsible for playing a crucial role in patient care and day-to-day clinical operations.
They work closely with dentists, dental hygienists, and other dental office members for successful efficient dental procedures while providing basic essential support and comfort to patients before and after treatment.
So, what qualifications are required to become a dental assistant? Let’s explore!
Minimum Education Requirement
High School Diploma or Equivalent
The first step you need to take to become a dental assistant is to complete your high school diploma or a GED. Having the minimum educational requirement is essential to ensure that you have the basic skills needed to start your career as a Dental Assistant.
Dental Assistant Training
To become a successful and competent dental assistant and stand apart from the crowd, enrolling in an accredited dental assistant training program is essential.
There are many accredited dental assistant programs offered typically by colleges, or dental schools where the duration of these courses ranges from 9 months to 2 years.
However, enrolling in an online training program is always recommended, since it allows you to complete the program at your own pace and time schedule, among other perks. Online training programs also allow you to complete your training much faster, in as little as 6 months, so that you can save your resources and time.
During a typical dental assistant training, you will learn:
- Dental anatomy and terminology
- Infection control and sterilization procedures
- Chairside assisting techniques
- Radiography (X-ray) procedures
- Patient communication and management
- Dental software and record-keeping
- Dental Assistant Certification (NELDA)
National Entry-Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) Certification
Certification for dental assistants is not compulsory in all states, however, becoming a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) can definitely increase your career prospects and earning potential.
One of the best ways to get certified is through the National Entry-Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification that is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
To obtain NELDA certification, you must pass three component exams:
- Radiation Health and Safety (RHS): This exam tests your knowledge related to X-ray procedures and radiation safety.
- Infection Control (ICE): This exam evaluates your understanding and skills to prevent infection in a dental setting. This exam also checks you on taking preventive and control measures.
- Dental Assisting (DA): This exam covers a wide range of dental assisting topics, including chairside procedures, patient care, and administrative tasks.
Know more: Dental Administrative Assistant
When you pass this exam and achieve NELDA certification, it shows your commitment and competence in dental assisting, which can make you a more attractive candidate to various potential employers in the industry.
Dental Assistant Skills
Dental assistant skills are super important in dentistry for several reasons. They’re like the strong foundation of a dental office, making sure everything runs smoothly and patients get optimum care.
Let us explain why these skills are so vital:
Communication: Working in a Dental office requires excellent communication skills since you have to entertain people regularly on a given day in a clinic.
Effective communication is essential with both patients and the dental team for providing quality care and ensuring a smooth workflow.
Attention to Detail: Dental assistants must be detail-oriented in their work. While preparing dental instruments, taking X-rays, or maintaining patient records you need to be able to give importance to small details to prevent any mishaps.
Technical Proficiency: As a Dental Assistant you need to be proficient in handling dental equipment and software. Proficiency in technology includes operating X-ray machines, sterilization equipment, and managing electronic health records.
Empathy and Patient Care: There might be cases where you might need to deal with patients who feel scared and anxious, and hence you need to be able to provide emotional support and create a comfortable environment for patients.
Adaptability: As a Dental assistant you should be adaptable since working in a dental office means fast-paced and unpredictable work. An emergency can arise at any time without a prior signal.
Being adaptable and quick-thinking is essential for handling various tasks and challenges.
Teamwork: Collaboration and coordination with dentists, hygienists, and other team members are critical to delivering effective dental care.
Day in the Life of a Dental Assistant
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Future of Dental Assisting
Dental Assistant Skills Resume
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Entry-Level Dental Assistant
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