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How to Become a Dental Assistant

Those who wish to pursue a dental career but prefer not to spend several years in college may benefit from dental assistant training. After completing a dental assistant program, typically about one year in length, candidates are prepared to work in a variety of settings. Potential dental assistants can begin their journey by learning more about this exciting career.

Education for Dental Assistants

Many aspiring dental assistants complete a postsecondary program that includes several months of practical training in both clinical skills and administrative duties. Graduates may then choose to take the national board exams and receive certification.

When pursuing a career as a dental assistant, individuals should first obtain the right education.

  • Enter a dental assistant educational program. Vatterott’s 60-week, 65.5 credit hour Dental Assistant program may be a good option. This comprehensive program prepares students to tackle many of the challenges presented in a dentist’s office.
  • Take the national board exams. Provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), these exams are open to graduates of accredited programs and those who have completed the required amount of on-the-job training. Importantly, certification through these exams may make dental assistants more attractive to potential employers.

Working as a Dental Assistant

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that employment of dental assistants will grow twenty-five percent (25%) between 2012 and 2022. This rapid growth is considered much faster than average when compared to all occupations. Dental assistants with the proper education and drive can feel hopeful about their employment prospects.

Dental assistant tasks include checking in patients, completing relevant medical histories, taking patients’ blood pressure, pulse, x-rays and teeth impressions, ensuring patient comfort throughout the visit, training patients on proper oral care and hygiene and assisting the dentist during dental procedures. Additionally, assistants are involved in controlling infection, sterilizing instruments, running the front office and communicating with vendors.

Career Growth for Dental Assistants

While basic dental assistant training provides access to a variety of work opportunities, advanced training may also be beneficial. Adequate training equips dental assistants to work in solo, group and hospital dental practices. Additional jobs may be found with pediatric dentists, oral surgeons, orthodontists, endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics. Dental school clinics, insurance companies, vocational schools and dental sales companies also hire dental assistants to work directly with patients or in administrative capacities.

Preparation for a dental career can begin with a quality education from Vatterott. Graduates will be equipped to embark on an exciting and rewarding career.


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