Health and Lifestyle

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Receiving A Dental Assistant Certificate: Everything You Need To Know

How to Obtain Certification as a Dentist’s Assistant

The first step to obtaining certification in this lucrative field is to possess a valid high school diploma. Thereafter, one can qualify as a medical assistant through work experience or by completing various degree programs. It is recommended to choose the latter option, as potential employers will look more favorably upon those that have attended dental assistant schools.

Assuming that one opts for scholastic training in an accredited college or university, achieving an associate’s degree will be the first step. There are a great deal of courses that will be offered including x-ray techniques, the filling of prescriptions, how to mix tooth impressions and general health measures within the work environment.

Following this, a test from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) will normally be taken. This examination includes book knowledge, health and safety sections, laboratory procedures and infection control questions. As the majority of the states require this test, it is highly recommended that the test be taken even if the state of residence does not consider it mandatory. Upon completion of this examination, one will become board certified as a dental care assistant.

The steps involved to become a dentist’s assistant are:

  • The possession of a high school diploma.
  • Enrollment in a training program that will result in an associate’s degree.
  • The administration and the passing of an examination that will allow recognition as a trained hygienist.

The Differences Between Two-Year Dental Assistant Schools and a Vocational Education

Many prospective assistants are often at times confused by the differences between these two options. As most employers will look favorably upon an associate’s degree, it is important to compare each.

A college that offers courses in this field will provide studies that are much more robust and encompassing. Notwithstanding the skills previously mentioned, the contrasting difference lies within the student’s ability to receive pre-clinical instruction in basic medical skills, laboratory work, in-depth classroom education, and further recognition should one wish to attend graduate schools in the future. The major advantage is that these degrees are highly respected within the field of dentistry.

The benefits of a two-year associate’s degree are:

  • A copious amount of pre-clinical skills.
  • Laboratory work.
  • The potential to attend graduate schools in the future.
  • Recognition within the field of dentistry

Conversely, vocational programs can usually be completed within four to six months. As opposed to clinically oriented degree programs, assistants will receive their training on the job and in a real-time environment. Some view this as a benefit, for even those with medical assistant certification will require this type of learning experience. However, assistants who attend such vocational schools may not be privy to the amount of book knowledge or laboratory experience and perhaps the most important factor is that any degree earned from such a program is not officially recognized.

To summarize, vocational courses are defined by:

  • A shorter completion time.
  • More hands-on experiences.
  • Less clinical knowledge.
  • No recognition from accredited authorities.


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