Selecting a career path can be challenging. There are so many options to choose from and you want to be sure you select the right one. People who choose dental assisting as a career are generally happy with their choice. So you may be wondering how to become a dental assistant. Dental assistants love their jobs. They meet friendly people and help people’s health too. They get paid well for their work and receive many extra benefits. Dental assisting is an up and coming career. This means that there will be more jobs opening up all the time. Here are just a few tips to help you out on your way to a new and exciting career.
Eligibility Requirements for Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are required to work under the laws and regulations of the state they’ll be working in. In Arizona, individuals who want to work alongside a licensed dentist and perform everything from coronal polishing to X-rays must follow specific eligibility requirements to do so.
Dental assistants can perform limited duties and must be willing to grow in their field. Specifically, to provide coronal polishing, dental assistants will be required to receive a certificate. To qualify for the certificate, students must pass DANB’s Coronal Polishing exam and return an Arizona Coronal Polishing Clinical Skills Affidavit (Form B).
Requirements for programs can vary so be sure to check your state’s rules before enrolling.
How to Become a Dental Assistant
Select a School
There are usually several schools to choose from where a person lives. Lucky for you, becoming a dental assistant can be quick. Some schools offer one or two year programs. But others offer much shorter programs. It’s important to know that just because a program is longer does not mean that they teach more. Do your homework and check into several different programs locally. Make sure you understand what each of them offer.
Types of Programs
Typically, students who are interested in pursuing a dental assistant career path will enroll in and complete a dental assisting program. While there are several options available to gain the necessary knowledge, skills and experience, it’s not necessary to pursue one that’s accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
Here at AIDA, students have the unique opportunity to obtain the knowledge and skills needed to become dental assistants in Arizona. Our dental assistant program is the only one in Arizona that incorporates live patient clinics. Instead of practicing on plastic dummies, you’ll be able to gain hands-on patient experience with actual patients.
Students in our dental assistant classes will engage with plans that incorporate foundational knowledge and practical skills. Under the training and guidance of licensed dentists, you’ll then be able to learn how to perform live procedures, gaining the hands-on experience you need to be successful in the field.
With convenient night class options, resume workshops, mock interviews and clinical reviews, AIDA can equip you for your future.
Once you have decided upon a school you will need to complete the program entirely. Take your schooling seriously. Some of the best dental assistants are the ones who paid attention during their training and were motivated. Motivation is key. Set a goal or find what is motivating you to return to school. Keep that in mind if things get difficult. Study in groups with other students in your class. You’re all learning the same thing, so take advantage of what others have to offer. Look into tutoring options if you are having trouble. Working out a problem when it first arises is always easier than waiting until you are far behind. Study, study, study! Your schooling will pay off while on the job so take in as much knowledge as you can.
Some schools require an externship in order to graduate. This can be such a valuable time for you to learn and grow as a dental assistant. You can gain great knowledge from other dentists and their staff. Be eager to work. Put your knowledge to good use and don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is the best time for you to learn hands on before you get a real job. Some doctors will even hire the student they worked with so always do your best work. That doctor could be your future boss!
In Arizona, dental assistants interested in operating and processing patient X-rays are required to obtain certification. Students can choose to enroll in a program and receive their certification through an exam for Radiation Health and Safety (RHS). It ensures students are aware of safety concerns for themselves and their patients when working with radiation during an examination.
This exam is approved by the DANB and the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners and covers crucial concepts such as how to mount the X-ray machines, manage infection control and process conventional films.
Students who successfully pass the exam can apply for a certificate from the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners (ASBDE).
Dental assistants who are licensed in another state by having passed either a practical or written examination can apply for their license by credential. Students will need to apply to the ASBDE for their Dental Assistant Radiology Certification by Credential and receive the Arizona Radiologic Proficiency Certificate.
Once you have this certification, you won’t have to renew it every year.
Look into different types of training and certifications that you can get. Even if it isn’t a requirement to graduate it may be useful in your career. Look into things like x-ray certification, software training, CPR and first aid training. When it comes to finding a job, the more training you can list the better. You want to build your credentials for future employers.
Find a Job
Once you have graduated you can look for a job. The best place to start is at the school where you trained. Check into their student services department. Some may offer help with writing a resume. Ask for where you should start looking for a job. Also ask if they know of any openings or doctors that are hiring. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean that they can’t help you. Many schools offer job search assistance to their graduates for life.
Now that you know how to become a dental assistant you can start a new career. So go out there and change the world…one smile at a time!