How To Become a Dental Assistant

The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that, as of 2020, there are over 300,000 dental assistants working in the United States. In other words, there’s 1 dental assistant for every 1,000 people in the country. 1 in one thousand may not seem like much, but the number of dental assistants is increasing every year.

This is great news for anybody hoping to become a dental assistant, but it’s not very useful news since it doesn’t tell us anything about dental assistants.

How does one become and what exactly dental assistants do? and how difficult is it to do so?

We’ll talk about all of that and more in this article.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

Dental assistants often do many different jobs, from keeping records and making schedules, to interacting with patients, and cleaning dental tools. Keep in mind that they’re not hygienists or administrative assistants, as both jobs are somewhat different.

Dental hygienists are more specialized in duties and training. They often do minor dental checkups and procedures that dental assistants aren’t qualified to do.

Administrative assistants and dental assistants differ because dental assistants perform some clinical tasks and administrative ones. For instance, they’re often responsible for taking x-rays and aiding dentists with procedures. They also work with dental hygienists with some of their responsibilities.

1. Education

The first step to becoming a dental assistant is getting the right education.

You don’t need a Bachelor’s Degree, but you will need a form of higher education. According to the National Board, aspiring dental assistants have roughly 250 nationally-recognized dental assistant programs to choose from.

These programs come in many different forms, but none of them last more than two years. These programs are often a mixture of classroom lessons and internships or on-the-job training.

You can even take those classes online because many of these colleges offer online programs. One such program can be found at

2. Get Certified

While trade schools and internships can give you a degree, the only thing that can qualify you for the job is proper certification. Dental assistants need to be certified in basic medicine, such as CPR and first aid, as well as the duties of a dental assistant.

To legally become a dental, you’ll need to pass the CDA test. CDA just stands for Certified Dental Assistant and the test gives you the proper certification to work as a dental assistant.

Keep in mind that dentals are certified by the state, so those from Florida will need to consult the Florida Board of Dentistry.

Once you’ve passed the test and been certified to do the job, the only thing left to do is to start looking for dental assistant jobs. 

How to Become a Dental Assistant: A Guide

Becoming a dental assistant can be a very rewarding career, and there are a lot of different ways to pursue it. We’ve discussed just one path to becoming a dentist in this article, but we encourage you to do more research on your own if you’re interested.

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