If there’s a medical field that has the power of making people quite uncomfortable, is the dental area.
Maybe it has something to do with how vulnerable people feel at the dentist or the fear of what is going to happen to them.
Nevertheless, the dentist and their staff can be of great help to make people familiar and more comfortable with the procedures that are taking place, even if it’s just a regular check-up.
There are several jobs in the dental area besides being a dentist that can be a great choice if you are interested in this field.
In the next few sections, we’ll discuss some of the most important facts about being a Dental Assistant, how to become one, and how much Dental Assistant School costs.
Table of Contents
What Is a Dental Assistant?
A Dental Assistant is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a professional that is prepared to provide support to the dentist and the patient.
They have a different educational background from dentists and their responsibilities can vary according to the state where they work and the setting.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
The most common duties a Dental Assistant has, are to schedule patients’ appointments, sterilize and prepare instruments and work area before an appointment, make sure the patient is ready, perform lab and x-ray tasks, recordkeeping, pass instruments to the dentist when needed, use suction hoses to dry patients’ mouths and any other activity that provides care and comfort to the patient.
This will make not only the dentist’s job easier but will also help the patient to stay relaxed and calm during treatment.
Where Do Dental Assistants Work?
Probably the first thing that comes to our mind when we think about Dental Assistants, is a private dental office.
Yet there are other settings where they can work, such as hospitals, insurance companies, the military, public health facilities, dental manufacturing companies, among others.
What Do I Need to Become a Dental Assistant?
The requirements depend mostly on the state where you want to work.
Although in some states it’s not necessary to have any formal education, in others you must complete a Dental Assistant program and pass an exam to be able to work as a Dental Assistant.
Dental Assistant School
In these schools, you can pursue a diploma, certificate, or an Associate’s degree in Dental Assisting.
The type of formal education you select, it’s going to mostly depend on your personal interests, as well as the time and money you can invest in your preparation.
Diplomas or certificates tend to last less than an Associate’s degree, and they usually cost less, too.
Depending on the state where you aspire to work and the responsibilities or areas you want to focus on, you might need to obtain certification by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
They offer several exams for Dental Assistants: National Entry Level Dental Assistant, Certified Dental Assistant, Certified Orthodontic Assistant, Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant, and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant.
How Long Does Dental Assistant School Take?
The duration of Dental Assistant School is going to vary according to the type of education you want to obtain.
If you pursue a diploma or certificate, it can range from six months to a year.
If you decide to get an Associate’s degree, instead, they usually last two years.
How Much Does It Cost to Attend Dental Assistant School?
The cost depends on the state where you live and the Dental Assistant program you choose.
Diplomas and certificates can cost from $3,000 to $25,000.
An Associate’s degree could cost between $5,000 to $35,000.
The DANB exams can cost from $400 to $450, depending on the one you choose or need.