Want to become a Dental Assistant? A Few Things You’ll Learn through Career-Training
If you are considering preparing for a career as a dental assistant by taking the Dental Assisting Program at UEI College, you are likely a people person who is interested in a job that focuses on helping people with preventative dental care and good oral health. You may be aware that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that this is a field with a lot of growth potential throughout the next decade. What you may not know is what you will learn in the program and how it will impact your future career.
We’ve reached out to several of the distinguished instructors in UEI College’s Dental Assistant Program to get their perspectives about the most valuable courses students in the program will take, and the tools or equipment that they believe will most contribute to student success. While all students will learn effective office communications skills, tackle standard dental abilities from cleaning and sterilization to taking x-rays, handling medical emergencies, and assisting with oral health procedures, it is the students who prepare for work and life in a real dental office who will find the most fulfillment in their careers.
UEI COLLEGE INSTRUCTORS WEIGH-IN ABOUT THEIR DENTAL ASSISTANT PROGRAM
VERONICA MARTINEZ, HUNTINGTON PARK CAMPUS
Martinez feels that the Preventive Dentistry module is the most beneficial to students in the Dental Assistant training program. In this course, you will learn tips for educating patients on the importance of dental health and the measures they can take to maintain good oral health. Hands-on training using mannequins, followed by a clinical practice on live people, makes up a significant focus of the course, preparing students for real-life scenarios that they will encounter in the field.
Among the many tools students will become familiar with during the course of this module is the dental handpiece, typically used for cleaning, removing plaque, and polishing teeth. Students will actively perform preventive procedures on real patients during their externship and throughout their careers as practicing dental assistants.
ROSARIO CAMACHO, HUNTINGTON PARK CAMPUS
Camacho feels that the Basic Fundamentals of Dentistry module kick starts a new dental assistant’s career more than any other. Coursework teaches students how to protect themselves and patients through a thorough knowledge of standard precautions, proper disinfection and sterilization, infection control, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). Mastery of these areas means that program graduates will be able to maintain a safe environment at work.
During this module, you will become very familiar with the chemicals and disinfectants used in the dental field for cleaning surfaces (chairs, counters, equipment), and the PPEs that are worn by dentists and dental assistants including goggles, gowns, masks, and gloves. Education is comprehensive in this area to ensure that students are well versed in the appropriate use, never taking any unnecessary risks.
MAGNOLIA MENDIOLA, ENCINO CAMPUS
Mendiola finds the Dental Radiography module to be the most significant for aspiring dental assistants. The course is so important, says Mendiola, because one of the primary functions of dental assistants is to help the doctor accurately diagnose and treat patients. During this course, students will receive an introduction to the basic terminology, anatomy, methods, and principles of dental radiology, with a firm grounding in radiation safety.
You will learn to work with the x-ray machine, lead aprons that protect patients from excess radiation, x-ray film, film processing equipment, the practice dummy, and any PPEs that you will need to use when you first begin taking patient x-rays. If your campus location has a digital x-ray machine, you will also be trained on the sensor, computer and software for taking digital x-rays.
ESTHER WYSINGER, HUNTINGTON PARK CAMPUS
Wysinger, Campus Department Chair and instructor, agrees with Mendiola that radiology is the most beneficial course that Dental Assistant students take at UEI College. In expanding on Mendiola’s reasoning, she adds, “I believe radiographs are essential in dentistry and are a vital part of the dental field. Radiographs are fundamental to the patient’s knowledge and understanding of their diagnosis, as well as providing the patient with a more descriptive view of their oral cavity.”
In addition to Mendiola’s explanation of the tools that dental assistant trainees use, Wysinger adds that they will learn how to use different devices for taking x-rays using different techniques—parallel and bisecting—with both Snap-A-Ray and Rinn holders.
LISA URIARTE, HUNTINGTON PARK CAMPUS
Uriarte also finds the radiology module to have the longest-lasting impact for students. She points out that when interviewing for dental assistant positions, program graduates will be asked about their x-ray skills, and asked to demonstrate them quickly and efficiently.
Much like the other instructors, Uriarte’s list of necessary equipment covered during the radiology course covers radiographic machines, film developer, film duplicator, tools for bisecting and paralleling film, and bitewing tab film mounts.
BE FULLY-PREPARED FOR YOUR NEW DENTAL ASSISTANT CAREER
With the hands-on training available in a program like UEI’s, you will graduate with the skills that will make you a valuable addition to any dental office, dental department, insurance company, or dental supply company. As the instructors have outlined above, there are endless opportunities to master the skills required of entry-level dental assistants—or that of any related entry-level assistant position, including orthodontics, oral surgery, surgical dental, and registered dental assistant. In as few as 10 months, you can learn all that you need to support a dentist’s preventive clinical care, standard dental care, and radiological needs.