Being a member of Dentistry, a Dental Assistant has lots of things to do.

But, contrary to popular belief, it’s not that difficult to become a Dental Assistant.

Yes, you heard it right.

There are various requirements that you have to accomplish before starting your career as a Dental Assistant.

A dental assistant is like a helping hand at a dentist’s office. This job role requires skills like having basic dental knowledge, being good with people, and caring for patients.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in dental assistance, you might need to know about the various requirements to become one.

In this article, we aim to do just that. We will uncover everything you need to know to become a successful dental assistant.


 dental assistant job

What is a Dental Assistant?

First things first, let us discuss what a dental assistant is, and what they do.

A dental assistant is a professional who supports dentists and dental hygienists in various tasks within a dental office or clinic.

Their responsibilities include assisting during dental procedures, preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing instruments, taking X-rays, maintaining patient records, and handling administrative duties like scheduling appointments.

Dental Assistants play an important role in ensuring smooth dental procedures and providing quality patient care.

What are the Requirements to be a Dental Assistant?

Now that you know what a dental assistant is, you might be curious about the requirements needed to become one.

Let’s find out.

1) High School Diploma

Well, when it comes to the minimum educational requirements to become a Dental Assistant, you need to have a high school diploma.

2) Dental Assistant Education

Having just a high school diploma is not enough. You also need to enroll in accredited training programs for dental assistants.

There are three choices available to complete your dental assistant training:

The fastest way to complete your dental assistant training is through an online training program, which takes significantly less time to complete as compared to an associate or a regular diploma program.

3) Become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)

Once you complete your dental education or training program, you will need to clear an exam called the NELDA certification exam, offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). This is the certification exam for dental assistants.

The NELDA exam generally comprises Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology. Once you clear this exam, you become a national entry-level Dental Assistant.

After that, once you clear the CDA exam conducted by DANB, you become a certified dental assistant.

dental assistant with dentist

Dental Assistant Education Requirements

There are generally two pathways to fulfill Dental Assistant Education Requirements.

Option 1 – Dental Assistant Associate Degree 

An associate degree program for dental assistants usually takes about two years to finish. You can find these programs at community colleges, technical schools, and vocational institutes.

In these programs, you learn about dental work and how to assist dentists. These programs cover clinical as well as theoretical knowledge.

An Associate degree program offers you in-depth knowledge about dentistry and hence is one of the traditional methods of completing your dental assistant training.

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Option 2 – Dental Assistant Online Programs (Recommended)

Some people like to learn online. They prefer taking classes on the Internet to sitting for in-person classes.

Online programs cover the same subjects offered in an associate degree program, minus the additional non-relevant subjects. Learning online is an excellent choice for people who can’t attend regular classes due to various reasons.

After completing a dental assistant program, you have the option to become certified or registered as a dental assistant in your preferred field.

However, certification is not mandatory and varies by state, and it usually involves passing an examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Once you clear this exam, you become an Entry Level Dental Assistant.

Certification can enhance job prospects and demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and excellence.

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