How to Become a Dental Assistant


A dental assistant is a person who is considered to be the dentist’s extra hand. They are the ones who are responsible in making sure that the instruments are clean and sterilized, helps prepare the patient for treatment and assist the dentist’s instrumental needs. They are expected to be alert and attentive to the procedural process of the dental treatment. A dental assistant’s task varies from aiding the dentist procedural needs to office management work which includes scheduling, setting appointments and other clerical tasks.

There are two ways to become a dental assistant, the direct training and enrolling in a training course program. The direct training, which are allowed in some state allows a person to become a dental assistant without formal training. The dentist will serve as the teacher who teaches the new assistant in dental terminology, instruments, routine tasks, procedures and other activities. While a formal training program requires you to enroll in a course program that would teach you the proper methods and procedures, equipments and information necessary to become a dental assistant.


A lot of Universities, Community Colleges, Technical Institutes and other Private Institutions offer a formal training program for individuals who wants to fulfill their dream to become a dental assistant. These schools must be accredited by the Commision on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association. The program usually lasts of 1 year which consists of classroom, return demonstrations, laboratories and clinical duties. included in the coursework are familiarization with dental equipments and materials, radiology, dental anatomy and physiology, and basic computer software class. All of those mentioned will be needed to come a competent, skillful and knowledgeable dental assistant.

Certification and Licenses

To evaluate their skills and knowledge on dental assisting the candidate must pass the the certified dental assistant (CDA) examination which comprises of three components: the radiation health and safety, infection control and general chairside assisting which can be taken together or separately. Applying for these examinations would require the candidate to pass the following:

  • 18 years of age
  • GED certificate or High School diploma
  • Application documents
  • Background information check report
  • Mental health status
  • Reasonable Accommodation Form (for people with disability)
  • For candidates with no formal education 3,500 hours or  two – four years of work experienced verified by the licensed dentist

For individual who wishes to become nationally certified, they need to pass the Dental Assisting National Board Certified Dental Assistant Exam. And a continuing education credit of 12 is necessary for renewal of license or certification.

Jobs and Salaries

According to the latest statistics the estimated yearly salary of a dental assistant is 33,000 dollars, which may increase depending on the company’s compensation rate and the population of the area. The places where a dental assistant can work are in hospitals, private clinics, school dental clinics and other dental offices.

The demand of the job is expected to grow at approximately 31% from 2010 to 2020 because a lot of people nowadays are concern and conscious about their oral hygiene. More and more individuals are taking up dentistry to meet these demands which would also make them in need of dental assistants to assist them in their day to day tasks.