Training as a Dental Assistant
Becoming a dental assistant can be a rewarding career choice for those interested in a dental field. Most dental assistant schools offer training and programs which lasts from one and two years. Dental assistants can also begin their career with on the job training.
Individuals interested in a degree from dental assistant schools are encouraged to take chemistry, biology, mathematics, computers and bookkeeping courses in high school classes.
Training & Certification
Online dental assistant schools, as well as campus based programs offer classes and certification. Programs and courses can also be found in community colleges. A one year training program can earn a dental assistant certificate or diploma. Those who take the two year program will normally earn an associate degree. Although a dental assisting degree may not be required, many employers prefer dental assistants who have undergone some formal training and have real world experience.
A Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) or Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) can expect an easier time getting a job, with a higher salary and greater possibility of promotion.
During the training, students will cover dental practice terminology, anatomy, physiology, record keeping and insurance processing, among other courses. They also cover pharmaceutical principals, lab techniques, diagnostic and clinical procedures, medical law, ethics, and patient relations.
Some dental assistant schools are accredited with organizations such as the Association of Dentists in America (ADA) and the Association of Dental Assistants in America (ADAA). Students taking accredited programs generally transition to internships or jobs within private dental practices, dental schools, hospitals, clinics or public health departments.
Some employers also prefer dental assistants who are certified. Certification is not a requirement to becoming a dental assistant. However, a diploma or certification serves to indicate the competence of a dental assistant. One can get certification in a specific field such as a dental hygienist, radiology or even dental lab technician. Some of the organizations that give dental assistant certification require passing an exam and practical experience.
By getting further training and more experience, dental assistants can diversify to other occupational areas. For example, one can become an assistant dental school teacher. It is also possible to advance to become an administrative dental assistant.
Roles of Dental Assistants
The role of a dental assistant can vary greatly depending on location of practice and type of specialization.
The normal routine of a dental assistant involves assisting a dentist to examine patients, take x-rays, mixing compounds for fillings, sterilizing or preparing instruments, recording patient history, preparing patients for before the check up, educating patients and scheduling patient appointments.
Those dental assistants who work at large dental practices may be required to do some administrative and clinical jobs. Administrative dental assistants may be required to purchase medical equipment and other supplies. They are also responsible for completing patients’ insurance forms and coding patient information.
Statistics indicate that employment for dental assistants is expected to grow by 36 percent from 2008 to 2018. It is expected that 81,200 new dental assistant jobs will be added. This is a faster job growth rate outpaces the average growth of many other occupations.
The greater demand for dental assistants is caused by a few factors, including population growth and expansion of the general health care industry. Also, the greater demand is related to more focus on preventative dental care. Older people are keeping their teeth longer. Also, younger dentists that are replacing older dentists prefer to use assistants more.
Skills of a Dental Assistant
To be an effective dental assistant, one requires having good communication, organizational and analytical skills. This is because they will be required to understand and interpret dental records and diagnoses made by dentists.
They are also required to have good interpersonal skills in order to be able to relate well with other staff that they will be working with. The dental profession requires an individual who is able to have good interactions with patients. This is one important quality that dental assistants need to have. Dealing with patients is especially complex and it calls for someone to always be patient and caring.
Dental Assistant Schools
If you are comfortable learning from home, there are a growing number of online dental assistant schools that offer classes, courses and certification or diplomas online. Choosing an online dental schools can be one of the fastest and most economical ways of preparing to become dental assistant. Online dental courses allow you to work at home and save time, gas room and board and money on commuting and traveling to a campus location.
Campus dental assistant schools offer courses and classes from one or multiple physical campus locations. This type of dental assistant school is perfect for an individual seeking to work with others. One can expect to have more hands-on experiences and more personal experiences with others that you will meet.
The choice of online dental assisting classes or a more traditional campus option depends on budget, time availability and general lifestyle needs. Either choice from an accredited school should prepare someone successfully, for a career in dental assisting.