Guide to Becoming a Dental Assistant


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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

How to Become a Dental Assistant?

Becoming a dental assistant may be easier than you think. There is no official university degree or training required to become a dental assistant, but employers like to see a level of training before hiring. The good news is this training can be completed in as few as ten months when you follow these steps:


Step #1: Obtain a High School Diploma

To begin training to become a dental assistant, you must have a high school diploma. Contact us to learn more about enrolling in UEI College's Dental Assistant Program. Our admissions representatives will provide you with all of the information that you need to enroll in the program.


Step #2: Explore Dental Assistant Training Programs

Finding the right dental assistant program is vital to your success. UEI College's Dental Assistant Program will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and hands-on training that you need to provide value at a dental office from day one. UEI College's Dental Assistant Program will teach you how to assist dentists during exams and ensure the equipment is sterilized between patients. These skills take proper training, and potential employers like to see that a candidate has this training on their resume and is ready to get to work on day one.


Step #3: Enroll In and Graduate From a Dental Assistant Program

Many employers will want to see that you have some training on your resume. Training that is hands-on with real equipment and patients will serve you well. UEI College’s Dental Assistant program will teach you all the fundamentals of being a dental assistant and provide opportunities to practice your skills during in-person, hands-on labs.


UEI College’s program also includes a 170-hour externship at the end of the course to put your skills into practice in a real-world setting. This valuable experience is your chance to take your learning to the next level. During an externship, students build connections in the field and learn directly from current dentists or dental assistants. Many employers may choose to hire dental assistant externs who go above and beyond to perfect their skills.


Step #4: Complete Any Necessary Steps to Work in Your State

Different states have different requirements for dental assistants. You can find an outline of the different requirements for your state on the Dental Assistant National Board Website. Most states require dental assistants to be supervised by a licensed dentist and to have training in infection control and basic life support in case of emergencies.


Step #5: Begin Applying For Positions

Once you have completed training and all the necessary steps to be eligible to work in your state, it’s time to start applying for positions. A detailed resume and confidence in your skills will help you stand out in a competitive market.


When you complete your training through UEI College, you will end with an externship experience. This opportunity not only provides the chance to practice your skills but also provides a chance to make contacts with folks currently working in the field. Some students are hired by their externship site.


If a student is not hired by their externship site, UEI College continues to work with the student through our Career Services Department. We will help you update your resume, find hiring opportunities in your area, and nail your interview. We know setting you up for success doesn’t happen only in the classroom. Finding an entry-level position you can love is important! Our program prepares you for an entry-level position as a Dental Assistant, Surgical Dental Assistant, Orthodontic Assistant, Orthodontic Technician, Oral Surgery Assistant, or Registered Dental Assistant.

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.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Assistant?

Becoming a dental assistant is a great way to begin working in the dental field quickly and build a career for years to come. While it takes training to jump into an entry-level position as a dental assistant, the training may be easier to complete than you think. You can complete training and be prepared for an entry-level position in as few as ten months through UEI College.


Dental assistants help all over the office and will become acquainted with how other positions within the office operate as well. If you have always dreamed of working in the dental field but were unsure which position interests you the most, becoming a dental assistant is a great way to find out.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

What Are the Benefits of Becoming a Dental Assistant?

Dental assistants play a vital role in a dental office, and as such, there are many benefits to becoming a dental assistant. Here are a few:


Quick training. One of the biggest benefits of this career is how quickly you can get started. You can enroll in UEI College’s Dental Assisting program today and learn the fundamental skills and concepts needed to jump into an entry-level position in as few as ten months. If you want to change your career or begin a new one in the medical field in less than a year, dental assisting is a great option.


Job security. Proper dental health is tied to proper general health. The need for professionals to help people in this area isn’t going away any time soon. With quality training, you can be prepared to work in this field and take your skills anywhere.


Opportunities for growth. Being a dental assistant doesn’t mean you can only work in a general dentist’s office. There are many specializations for dentists. You could have a special interest in working for a dental surgeon, an orthodontist, a pediatric dentist, or a periodontist. Any dental office needs good dental assistants, and as you explore new specialties, you may find new opportunities to grow within the field and learn more about how the health of a person’s mouth affects their entire body.


Rewarding position. Dental assistants are part of the team that helps people develop a healthy, confident smile. One of the biggest benefits of becoming a dental assistant is getting to know the patients you serve and knowing you are helping provide the best care possible.

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
  • Radiography
  • Dental Material
  • Preventative dentistry
  • Dental Specialties
  • Prosthodontics/Administrative Assistant
  • Externship


Through these courses, students will learn:

  • Human development and facial structure
  • How to take and record vital signs
  • CPR
  • Managing dental emergencies
  • Infection control
  • Proper sterilization techniques
  • Dental instruments
  • Charting
  • Taking dental X-rays
  • Mixing cement, plaster, and liners for dental impressions
  • Proper dental hygiene
  • Denture adjustment
  • Dental Specialties
  • Computer skills
  • Professionalism

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.

Consider Enrolling in UEI College’s Dental Assistant Program

If you feel like starting a career in the dental field is the right move for you, UEI College is prepared to offer you the resources and training you need to be successful in finding an entry-level position as a dental assistant. We offer ongoing enrollment, so you can enroll today and get started on the next start date. Imagine beginning a new career in as few as ten months!


Our program offers students flexibility. We know life gets busy, and you may have to work while you go to school. That’s why we offer day and evening classes on a hybrid schedule. Students complete assignments online and attend live lectures online and then come to campus just twice a week to practice skills in-person with real equipment and tools. Tutoring and extra lab time are available for students who need extra support.


Compassionate, experienced instructors are what really drive our programs. Our instructors have experience working in the field and will take the time to ensure students understand the concepts being taught before moving on. We are also proud of our ambassador program, which encourages students to get involved on campus and help inspire other students.


“My personal and professional experience working with a diverse student population has been very rewarding as an instructor at UEI,” said Yolanda Puente-Benson. “The students I’ve worked with had many challenges in their lives. However, with proper guidance and a lot of nurturing, in a careful and safe environment, they were able to overcome their challenges, excel and empower themselves.”


At the conclusion of the Dental Assisting Program, UEI College students complete a 170-hour externship in a local dental office. Under the supervision of a dentist, hygienist, or dental assistant, you’ll have the chance to practice your skills, learn new methods and witness dental procedures. This valuable training is the cherry on top for students who feel ready to enter the job field.


As you begin your job search, UEI College is still there to help. Our career services department works with students to update their resumes, apply for jobs, and schedule interviews. We are here to support you every step of the way!


If you’re ready to build a career you can be proud of, we are ready to help. With training and skills from UEI College, an entry-level position as a dental assistant is just a matter of months away!