If you’re considering a career as a dental assistant, remember that you’re entering a field that plays an important role in dental healthcare.
Dental assistants work with dentists to provide essential support to ensure smooth and efficient dental procedures.
Now, if you have decided to become a Dental Assistant, one question may arise in your mind:
Let us answer that for you.
To become a dental assistant, you’ll need to follow a specific path that involves education, certification, and valuable experience.
Let’s break down the journey to becoming a dental assistant. Read on!
Top 3 Things You Need To Start Your Dental Assistant Career
Here are the three things you need to start your dental assistant career.
# Dental Assistant Education
The first step in becoming a dental assistant is to obtain the required education. While it is possible to become a dental assistant with just a high school diploma, most states in the U.S. require formal education from an accredited dental assisting program.
These programs are offered by community colleges or dental schools. The duration of these programs can vary, but most dental assisting programs are designed to be completed in about 9 to 12 months.
What do you get in these programs?
In these programs, you’ll get training in both the clinical and administrative aspects of dental assisting. You’ll learn about dental procedures, oral anatomy, dental instruments, infection control, radiography, and patient care.
Additionally, you’ll gain knowledge in dental office management, which includes appointment scheduling, record-keeping, and patient communication.
# NELDA Certification:
While not all states require certification to work as a dental assistant, obtaining certification can significantly upgrade your career prospects.
One of the recognized certifications for dental assistants is the National Entry Level Dental Assistant (NELDA) certification.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers NELDA certification and signifies that you’ve met nationally recognized standards of knowledge and skills in dental assisting and you are ready to explore dentistry.
To obtain NELDA certification, you’ll need to pass the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, which tests your basic knowledge and understanding of dental radiography techniques and safety measures.
The NELDA certification also shows your commitment to the profession and can make you a more competitive candidate among others when applying for dental assistant positions.
After completing your dental assisting program and obtaining the necessary certifications, the next step is to gain hands-on experience.
Many dental assistants start their careers with entry-level positions, where they work closely with experienced dentists and dental hygienists. You can also go for certain externships.
This experience is valuable as it allows you to apply the knowledge and skills you’ve learned in real-world situations.
As you gain experience, you’ll become more efficient in dental procedures, patient care, and working with dental equipment.
Experienced dental assistants often take on more responsibilities in the office, such as assisting with advanced procedures, taking dental impressions, and even handling some administrative tasks.
Now, you must be wondering:
How much time does it take to gain valuable experience?
The time it takes to become a fully experienced dental assistant can vary. Some individuals become proficient within a few years, while others may take a little longer to develop their skills and expertise.
How Long Is Schooling for Dental Assistant
Well, when we talk about the duration of schooling for a Dental Assistant, it can vary based on the type of program you choose.
Let’s discuss in detail what options are available for Dental Assistants to complete their schooling.
Pursuing an associate degree in dental assisting generally takes 2 years. An Associate Degree program provides a more comprehensive education, covering not only dental assisting skills but also general education courses.
You will get to know everything in a detailed and comprehensive manner.
If you don’t want to opt for an Associate Degree Program, you can opt for certification programs, which are shorter in duration as compared to associate degree programs. These programs can often be completed in 9 months to 1 year.
They focus primarily on dental assisting skills and may not include detailed additional education courses.
Online dental assistant programs offer flexibility, but the duration here also varies.
Some online programs are designed to be completed in a similar timeframe as certification programs, around 9 months to 1 year. However, the exact duration may depend on factors such as the program’s structure, whether it’s self-paced or follows a set schedule and the amount of time you can commit to your studies.
Keep in mind that program duration can vary by institution and the specific requirements of the program.
It’s important to choose a program that meets your goals, schedule, and educational preferences.
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