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How to Become a Dental Assistant

Dental assistants work in private dentists' offices, hospitals and clinics, for dental suppliers and even for the public health authority. If you'd like to become a dental assistant, you can be trained on the job by a qualified dental assistant and a licensed dentist, but, increasingly, potential employers are requiring more formal training. A dental assistant can function as a dentist's third hand, preparing materials for impressions, processing X-rays, sterilizing and preparing instruments, and looking after some of the office's administrative tasks. As such, dental assistants deal directly with patients. Because of the nature of the job, dental assistants need to be reliable, good with using their hands and get on well with people. If this sounds like the job for you, continue reading to learn how to become a dental assistant [source: ADA].

  1. Take courses in biology, health studies, and chemistry, as well as office practices, while still in high school.
  2. Attend a college that offers courses in dental assisting. Make sure the college you choose is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). During such a course, which typically lasts for one year, you will study practical dental-assisting skills as well as associated theory. You will receive a certificate upon successfully completing the course.
  3. Take the certification examination to become a Certified Dental Assistant. The examination is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board [source: BLS].

You are now ready to get a job as a dental assistant.