Dental assistants are a vital part of a dental office, performing both administrative and clinical tasks. This important role helps the entire office run more efficiently. Dental assistants may be responsible for greetings patients and helping them feel comfortable before the exam, or they may be assisting chairside, ensuring the exam runs smoothly. UEI College’s Dental Assistant Program gives students all the training and knowledge they need to be successful in an entry-level dental assistant position.
If you have always had an interest in the dental field but were unsure where to start, becoming a dental assistant is an excellent first step. Dental assistants work in the front office as well as in the exam room, giving you a great overview of how a dental practice runs. The training for this role can be completed in as few as 10 months and may be easier to begin than you think. If you have an interest in making people smile, dental assisting is an excellent first step.
What is a Dental Assistant?
A dental assistant is a trained professional who performs administrative and clinical tasks to help a dental office run more efficiently. The role of a dental assistant is to work under the supervision of a licensed dentist and help with any task that will free up their time to provide patients with the best care possible. Depending on the office, a dental assistant may spend their day on their feet, assisting in the exam room, or working diligently at a desk, performing mostly administrative tasks.
In the exam room, dental assistants may help with:
- Preparing a patient for their exam, ensuring they are comfortable
- Preparing equipment for the dentist
- Assisting the dentist chairside
- Performing x-rays
- Sterilizing equipment and tools
- Removing sutures
- Applying topical fluoride
- Apply sealants
- Restocking supplies
In the front office, medical assistants may help with:
- Scheduling appointments
- Making referrals
- Greeting patients
- Updating records
- Ordering supplies
- Checking insurance coverage
Do You Need a High School Diploma to Become a Dental Assistant?
Yes, you need a high school diploma to train to become a dental assistant. However, if you do NOT have your high school diploma, UEI College has options. UEI College will allow you to earn your high school diploma while training to become a dental assistant. Our Dental Assistant Program can be completed in as little as 10 months.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Dental Assistant?
Dental assistants play a vital role in the dental office, helping patients to feel welcome and comfortable and helping the dentist with both administrative and clinical tasks. Juggling it all does require many skills, both technical and interpersonal. Some of the technical skills needed to be a dental assistant include:
- Disinfecting and sterilizing dental equipment
- Assisting with common dental procedures
- Knowledge about preventative dental procedures
- Ability to perform CPR
- How to update and manage a patient’s chart
- Radiographic techniques
- How to take dental impressions
- Computer skills and appointment scheduling
The interpersonal skills needed to be a dental assistant may include:
- Good communication skills. A dental assistant may be the first one to greet a patient and get them situated in the exam chair. Many employers look for applicants who could be considered a people-person and have the ability to make light, polite conversation and put people at ease. Many people feel uncomfortable at the dentist, but a warm greeting can help calm the nerves.
- In some offices, a dental assistant may be juggling tasks both in the front office and in the back office, but anywhere they are assigned, it is important that they do their tasks well. While assisting chairside, it is even more important for a dental assistant to be paying attention to the procedure and offering the best support possible to help the procedure run efficiently. While dental assistants may work independently, their role benefits everyone in the office.
- Attention to Detail. Whether a dental assistant is stocking supplies or verifying insurance coverage, they need to be organized and paying attention. A well-run office depends on every employee speaking up when they notice a problem or a need.
- Self-motivated. A passionate dental assistant is a great benefit to the entire office. IF you are the type of person who looks for ways to go above and beyond to help others, you are suited for a job as a dental assistant.
Should You Become a Dental Assistant?
If you have always been curious about the dental field, there are many benefits to becoming a dental assistant. You have the opportunity to deliver care to patients and see them grow a healthy, beautiful smile. You can work in an office environment with stable hours and benefits. There are also many specializations of dentistry that you might explore to keep the career interesting.
Whether or not becoming a dental assistant is right for you depends on many factors. Here are a few signs that you should look further into becoming a dental assistant.
- You love interacting with people. Dental assistants have the opportunity to interact with many people on a daily basis, from the dentist and hygienist to every patient that comes through the door. If you love getting to know people and building relationships, being a dental assistant allows you to do that.
- You desire regular work hours. If you cherish your evenings and weekends for personal time, you will do well working in an office with stable hours. Dental assistants work whenever the office is open. Some dental offices may offer early or late office hours or the occasional weekend. Many dental assistants work 40-hour work weeks.
- You enjoy a fast-paced environment. Dental assistants may work just in the front office, just in the exam room or cover both. This variety in the tasks you are performing can make the hours fly by.
- You are organized. If your bookshelf at home is alphabetized or your fridge is sorted by color, you already have the skills to be a good dental assistant. Dental assistants are often responsible for scheduling appointments, managing charts and records, updating insurance information, and submitting invoices. All of these tasks require great attention to detail and the ability to stay organized.
- You want to start a new career quickly. Training to become a dental assistant can be completed in as few as ten months. In that time, you can gain all the skills and knowledge to prepare you for an entry-level position in the field. Once you’ve got a foot in the door, there are many different avenues to take in the dental field and different specialties to explore.
- You love helping people. At the end of the day, the job of a dental assistant is to help the dentist and the patients. If you’re looking for a rewarding career, a career as a dental assistant will provide that.
Why Choose UEI College to Become a Dental Assistant?
UEI College’s Dental Assisting program provides all the skills and knowledge you need to prepare you for an entry-level position in the field in less than a year. Our program is built on a unique hybrid model. Students attend lectures and complete assignments online, and come to in-person classes twice a week to put those concepts into action through hands-on experiences. The eight modules in this program include:
- Dental Science/Medical Emergencies
- Chairside Assisting
- Dental Material
- Preventative dentistry
- Dental Specialties
- Prosthodontics/Administrative Assistant
Through these courses, students will learn:
- Human development and facial structure
- How to take and record vital signs
- Managing dental emergencies
- Infection control
- Proper sterilization techniques
- Dental instruments
- Taking dental X-rays
- Mixing cement, plaster, and liners for dental impressions
- Proper dental hygiene
- Denture adjustment
- Dental Specialties
- Computer skills
If any of those topics sound interesting to you, we invite you to take a tour of the nearest UEI College campus to you to learn more about how you can enroll and get started learning!
Do Dental Assistants Perform Hands-on Training?
At UEI College, Dental Assistants perform hands-on training. Our campus laboratories are well-stocked with equipment and tools to help students put the concepts they have learned into practice.
Our programs are built to give you experience in the real world. That is why our students come to campus for in-person learning, where they practice skills on their fellow students and on dummies. We simulate real office visits throughout the program. To add to the experience, our students complete a 170-hour externship in a local dental office. This gives them the chance to shadow current dental assistants and dentists to learn from them and gain new skills they can use moving forward.
How to Apply to UEI College’s Dental Assistant Program?
Applying to UEI College’s Dental Assisting program starts with a call! Give us a call or fill out an online form and one of our admission representatives will be in touch.
If you are near a campus, we invite you to come in during our business hours and go for a tour. Take a look at our classrooms and labs and meet the instructors.
At the conclusion of the tour, we’ll have you sit down with our financial aid team to discuss any options available to help cover the cost of your education. We know paying for school is never easy but financial aid grants and scholarships are available to those who qualify.
It’s a good idea to bring a copy of your high school transcripts with you to speed up the enrollment process. If you did not finish high school or equivalent, we could still help! Give us a call today to learn more about the high school diploma program offered through a third party.
Does UEI College Offer Financial Aid for the Dental Assistant Program?
Yes, UEI College offers financial aid to those who qualify. We know that paying for school can be a barrier for many students. Our financial aid department will help you fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see if you qualify for any grants or loans. Scholarships may also be available.