If you’re an aspiring Dental Assistant, the number 1 question that you might want answered is what exactly you need to become one.

Let us help you with that.

Dental assistants are allied healthcare professionals who assist dentists in the smooth running of the clinic or hospital.

If you want to be a dental assistant, there are things you need to do to be really good at your job.

This article will talk about the important things you need to do to become a great dental assistant.

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 dental helper

Three Things You Need to Be a Dental Assistant

1: Finish High School

Step one on your journey to becoming a dental assistant: high school graduation.

Why is it a big deal? Well, think of it as your ticket to gaining crucial healthcare skills, especially those tailored for dental assisting gigs.

2: Dental Assisting Training

After you’ve wrapped up high school, the next big move is diving into Dental Assisting Training. This can be achieved by enrolling in a school, college, or institution that offers the necessary training.

During this training, you’ll get a general idea of all things dental care, learn how to maintain cleanliness, take X-rays of teeth, and organize things around the office.

3: Getting Certified as a Dental Assistant

Not all states require you to be certified as a dental assistant, but getting certified can significantly boost your chances of landing a great job and earning a higher income.

One widely recognized certification is known as NELDA, which is overseen by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

To get the NELDA certification, you’ll need to clear a test covering various areas, including Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology. Passing this exam grants you the title of a national entry-level Dental Assistant.

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Holding this certification proves your dedication to excelling in your role as a Dental Assistant. But the journey doesn’t have to stop there.

If you decide to take the CDA exam, also conducted by DANB, and you pass it, you’ll officially become a certified dental assistant.


4: Hands-On Clinical Experience

While going through a training program and obtaining certification holds significance, the ultimate learning experience comes from real-world exposure. Certain training programs offer the chance to work in a dentist’s office for hands-on practice.

Externships are the best to achieve this, where you’ll roll up your sleeves and assist the dentist with actual patients. This gives you a taste of the daily grind as a dental assistant and allows you to improve your skills day by day.


Top 5 Skills for a Dental Assistant

1. Administrative Skills

The majority of tasks in the dental office are handled by Dental Assistants. They’re the ones handling phone calls, scheduling appointments, and maintaining patient records. Time management and organizational skills are also important.

2. Communication Skills

Dental Assistants are often the face of the dental clinic or hospital. They ask about their health history, explain treatments, and educate them on how to take care of their teeth.

If they have good communication skills, they can make patients feel comfortable. Communication and teamwork are equally important when they work with dentists, dental hygienists, and the rest of the dental team.

3. Critical Thinking

Having sharp critical thinking skills is a must for a dental assistant. As a support to dentists, you should be quick to provide tools when they require them.

4. Ability to follow instructions

Dental assistants are expected to be attentive listeners and show attention to detail. Even when things get a bit chaotic, maintaining focus and being prepared to assist the dentist promptly holds significant importance.

5. Making Good Judgement

Having a knack for decision-making is crucial for dental assistants. If you believe a change in procedure or medicine could benefit a patient, don’t hesitate to voice your thoughts. Possessing dental knowledge empowers you to make informed and wise choices.


Becoming a dental assistant isn’t just about technical skills—it’s a blend of heart and expertise. From mastering tools to soothing anxious patients, it takes a mix of communication, organization, and a keen eye for detail.

Remember, it’s not just about the procedures; it’s about making every patient feel at ease. So, whether it’s your knack for multitasking or your warm smile that lights up a room, being a dental assistant is about being there for others, making their dental journey smoother, one smile at a time.

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