With a career in dental assisting you can play a valuable role in the dentist’s office. Dental assisting goes beyond handing tools to a dentist or checking in patients.
You contribute to the overall office atmosphere and quality of service each patient experiences.
Visiting a dental office can evoke stress and anxiety for some. As a dental assistant you are able to help calm fear and move patients in and out of the dentist’s chair with ease.
A Dental Assistant’s Role in the Office
As a dental assistant you are trained to take on various responsibilities within the dental office. You attend to the details leading up to and following dental care. Your work ensures that dentists can lend their attention to more technical dental procedures.
You are also important to a patient’s experience, and have the opportunity to make each visit smooth and stress-free. You greet patients upon entry, obtain and update records, set and confirm appointments, and process both patient and insurance billing.
You make sure patients feel comfortable prior to treatment. Additionally, you instruct patients on dental healthcare at home. You help reinforce the message: care for your mouth and you won’t have to fear the dentist.
Dental Assisting Specifics
Dental assistants maneuver through the dental office, performing various duties from front office to the dental chair. They support dentists and dental hygienists before, during and after dental procedures.
Dental assistants have the opportunity to contribute to patient care. They do so by preparing patients for treatment, obtaining patient records and putting them at ease.
Dental assistants set up equipment and materials, and assist the dentist during dental procedures. Following dental care, dental assistants instruct patients on postoperative measures and optimization of at home oral hygiene.
A dental assistant has the chance to make patients feel comfortable and safe in a place that can arouse anxiety. Their connection with patients allows for a meaningful interaction that dispels worry and enhances dental care.
Formerly, many dental assistants underwent on-the-job training in order to learn their functions within the office. Now, formal education carries more weight in the industry.
Many states require dental assistants to obtain specific certification, available only to those who have graduated from an accredited dental assistant program.
A dental assisting program generally lasts one year, and results in a certificate or diploma. A 2 year dental assisting program at a junior or community college leads to an associate degree.
Important to note is that not every dental assisting school or program is equal. Each may grant adequate preparation, but not all have received the stamp of approval from a national accrediting body.
The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is responsible for approving a dental assisting program. Graduates of CODA approved programs are eligible to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) by successfully passing an exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Certified vs. Registered
The acronyms may be hard to follow. More simply put: certification requires an exam, and the exam is only available to graduates of accredited programs.
An exception is made for individuals who have 2 years of full-time or 4 years of part-time experience in the field. Yet, you can expedite your career, credibility and ease of entry into the field by taking the proper steps to certification.
The standardized exam for Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) status is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and is recognized in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
This national body develops and administers qualifying exams for certification as a CDA and in other specialized areas (e.g. Certificate of Competency in Radiation Health and Safety).
Dental assistants can also gain Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) status, a state issued credential. Some states only require registration if a dental assistant wants to perform advanced duties such as taking x-rays.
A Registered Dental Assistant obtains this title by registering through the State Board of Dental Examiners (SBDE). Examination is administered by the state in which the individual practices.
Each state has different requirements for dental assistants. Since state regulations determine the full functionality of a dental assistant, contact the State Board of Dental Examiners in the state in which you plan to practice.
Further, visit the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) website for additional dental assistant information.
If you seek the credentials that give the flexibility of practice and a professional edge, attend a dental assisting school approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). That way you can gain CDA certification, a title recognized in most states.
With the appropriate certification, you can present yourself as a competent and credentialed dental assistant ready for work in the field.
Begin your search for a CODA approved dental assisting school or program today!
The job forecast is extremely promising – the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 36 percent increase in dental assisting jobs by 2018 – this is one of the fastest growing occupation in the nation!
Don’t let the field continue to expand without being a part of it. You can begin a rewarding career supporting dental health, and do so in as little as one year. Now is your chance. Enroll in a dental assisting program today. Don’t miss this opportunity!