Introduction: How to become a Dental Assistant (DA)
Are you interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare field? If so, becoming a dental assistant could be a great option for you. Dental assistants play a vital role in the dental office, working alongside dentists and other dental professionals to provide quality patient care. In this article, we’ll explore the steps you can take to become a dental assistant.
Research the Role of a Dental Assistant
Before pursuing a career as a dental assistant, it’s important to understand what the job entails. DA’s work closely with dentists to provide patient care, which can include taking X-rays, preparing exam rooms, sterilizing dental instruments, and assisting with procedures. Additionally, DA’s may perform administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments and managing patient records.
Complete High School or Obtain a GED
To become a dental assistant, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED. In high school, it’s helpful to take courses in biology, chemistry, and health. These classes can help prepare you for the coursework you’ll encounter in DA training programs.
Enroll in a Training Program
After obtaining a high school diploma or GED, the next step is to enroll in a DA training program. These programs typically take between nine and eleven months to complete and can be found at community colleges, vocational schools, and dental schools. During the program, you’ll learn about dental terminology, anatomy, radiology, and infection control, as well as receive hands-on training in dental procedures.
While certification is not required to become a dental assistant in all states, it can help increase your job prospects and earning potential. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers several certification options for DA’s, including the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) credentials.
Gain Work Experience
After completing a DA training program and obtaining certification (if desired), the next step is to gain work experience. Many DA’s start out by working in general dentistry practices, but opportunities also exist in specialty areas such as orthodontics and oral surgery.
Pursue Continuing Education
As with many healthcare professions, continuing education is an important part of being a DA. Dental assistants can pursue additional training in areas such as expanded functions, dental anesthesia, and infection control to increase their knowledge and skill set.
Becoming a DA can be a rewarding career path for those interested in the healthcare field. By following these steps, you can be on your way to a successful career in dental assisting.