If you have an interest in the dental field, becoming a dental assistant is a great place to start. Dental assistants work closely with dentists to help the office run efficiently in the front office and in the exam room.
Dental assistants help patients check in at the front desk, and update their contact information and billing information. They check with the patient’s insurance company to confirm coverage. They also ensure the office is well-stocked with supplies and that all the tools are regularly sanitized.
In the exam room dental assistants collect patient history, update their records and even take dental x-rays. Dental assistants may also assist chairside with the dentist’s exam by handing tools or equipment and positioning the patient.
So do you need formal training to become a dental assistant? Or can you become a dental assistant without completing a dental assisting training program? Read below to find out!
If you're interested in becoming a Dental Assistant, consider enrolling in UEI College's Dental Assisting Training Course!
Do You Need Training to Become a Dental Assistant?
While it is possible to become a dental assistant without official training, finding a dentist who is willing to train on the job is very rare. Most dentists prefer to hire an assistant who is already familiar with the dental tools, terms, and procedures and who is able to get started right away. Dental assistants who complete a training program may have a better time finding a job than those who have not completed a program and do not have experience.
Dental assistants who have gone through a training program are also qualified to do more tasks around the dental office than someone who is only trained on the job. Dental assistants who are trained on the job are allowed to assist with administrative work and, under general supervision, may perform limited clinical work like recording a patient’s blood pressure, placing and removing cotton swabs, and instructing patients on good oral hygiene. Further training and certification would be required to perform what is called “expanded functions.”
A dental assistant who has completed a training program may perform all the expanded functions. This includes charting a patient’s teeth, polishing clinical crowns, making impressions for casts and trays, cementing temporary crowns, monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide, removing sutures, applying topical fluoride, applying sealants, and removing surgical dressings. These expanded functions prepare a trained dental assistant to work in any dental environment, including specialties like orthodontics or oral surgery.
Training programs also cover dental specialties that someone learning on the job may not be introduced to. Specialties like orthodontics, oral surgery, and endodontics all need smart, capable dental assistants to help in their offices. Working in these special dental offices may open the door to more opportunities in the future.
Training programs for dental assistants also teach skills that can make a dental assistant eligible for certification. Certifications verify your competency and let employers know you have the skills to be a valuable member of the office. They also help dental assistants to grow professionally and advance in their careers. There are dozens of different certifications available, and each provides a valuable boost to your resume—though none of these certifications are necessary to seek employment.
What Do You Learn from a Dental Assisting Program?
A dental assistant training program teaches students all the skills necessary to prepare for an entry-level position in the field. This includes training on front office responsibilities like:
- Managing computer systems
- Updating patient records
- Scheduling appointments
- Verifying insurance information
- Telephone techniques
- Managing supply inventory
- Billing procedures
And back office assisting responsibilities like:
- Recording patient vitals
- Prevent transmission of diseases
- Sterilizing equipment
- Positioning the patient
- Assisting chairside during procedures
- Coronal polishing
- Performing whitening with a non-laser light
- Performing dental x-rays
- Taking dental impressions
- Fabricating bleaching trays and mouthguards
- Placing temporary crowns
- Placement and operation of an EKG device
As well as general dental knowledge like:
- Different dental specialties
- Dental terminology
- Proper nutrition and its effect on dental health
- Anatomy of teeth
- Development of human teeth
All of these skills and knowledge come together during an externship where students work hands on in a real dental office. This allows students to see how their training is applied to the real world and what further skills they may want to expand on as their career develops.
Become a Dental Assistant With UEI College
UEI College is obsessed with student success. That is why we have built programs to offer unmatched support to our students as they train for their next careers. From financial aid and flexible schedules to experienced instructors and an inclusive culture, you can find what you need to succeed at UEI College.
Give us a call today to schedule a tour and learn more about our Dental Assisting Program!