How to Become a Dental Assistant

become a dental assistant

A dental assistant cares for patients during their visits, performs diagnostics such as x-rays, and–as their job title denotes–assists the dentist during procedures and exams. A dental assistant enjoys a career that’s generously remunerative, well respected, and personally rewarding. So how do you become a dental assistant?

Possess compassion.

Dental assistants, like the dentists they help, should enjoy serving people and display a genuine sense of caring, friendliness and positive “chair-side manner.” Many patients feel uncomfortable with dental procedures. Some deeply fear visiting the dentist. The dental assistant can help make a potentially frightening experience much easier to tolerate. In this sense, the dental assistant can help a dentist build the practice, since referrals play a vital role in the growth of any dental office.

Know the dental assistants career.

While reading about dental assisting, it seems easy enough. But job shadowing a dental assistant can provide you with a more in-depth look at the dental assistant career. Ask plenty of questions about what the dental assistant is doing and why the dental assistant is doing it. Ask about the worst parts of the job as well as the best. It may also help to talk with instructors from a dental assistant school.

Select a dental assistant school.

Since you’ll need education and certification in most states to work as a dental assistant (only a few allow on-the-job training), look at the various schools where you can obtain the knowledge you’ll need.  Even if you are in a state that permits on-the-job training, completing a dental assistant program can better equip you to enter the field.

Ensure that the dental assistant program will prepare you to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exam.

The DANB is recognized by oral health care providers nationwide and represents a great step towards achieving employment in dental assisting. It’s not required, but advisable to pass the DANB to increase opportunities for working as a dental assistant.

Network while attending  dental assistant school.

As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” While making these connections may not appear relevant to you as a dental assistant student, you could realize many benefits later as you seek employment or further education.

Complete dental assistant school.

As with any educational path, it’s not a cinch to pass dental assistant school classes, but if you attend a dental assistant school with a caring faculty and plenty of academic support available, you should be able to finish your dental assistant program.

Pass the dental assistant exam.

As the industry standard for dental care providers, the DANB should represent an important  part of your resume as a dental assistant-to-be. As a Certified Dental Assistant(tm), you can work as a dental assistant nationwide–that’s how much dental professionals respect this valuable credential.

Ask for help.

Dental assistant positions are readily available; however, should you need help finding dental assisting openings where you want to live, ask your school’s career guidance center for help.