Question by Kar98k: Is it possible to work as a Dental Assistant while in College?
I am a first year college student, and I want to go to Dental School one day so I can obviously become a Dentist. I was wondering if I can be a Dental Assistant as a College student, so that I have more experience when it comes to Dental School. Is it possible? If so, what are the requirements?
Answer by Pascale Saliba
That’s a wonderful idea. Although you are not required to have a college degree, education is important when you’re thinking about becoming a dental assistant. A career as a dental assistant offers many challenges…in addition to assisting the dentist during a variety of procedures, other specific tasks dental assistants may perform include taking and developing dental
radiographs (xrays), sterilizing instruments and equipment and taking impressions of patients’ teeth. Some of these tasks require certifications, such as X-rays.
It takes a relatively short period of time to become a dental assistant. Dental assistants
receive their formal education through academic programs at community colleges, vocational schools, technical institutes, universities or dental schools. Graduates of these programs usually receive certificates. Although the majority of academic dental assisting programs take nine to eleven months to complete, some schools offer accelerated training, part-time education programs or
training via distance education.
The agency responsible for accrediting dental assisting programs and deciding whether or
not they meet the standards for accreditation is the Commission on Dental Accreditation of
the American Dental Association. There are approximately 270 Commission-accredited
dental assisting programs in the United States.
State regulations vary, and some states offer registration or licensure in addition to this
national certification program.
Contact your dentist or the state and local dental society of the American Dental Association in your area. Perhaps you can arrange for a brief visit to a dental office to observe dental assistants at work. You can also contact an accredited dental assisting program and arrange to talk with a counselor and visit the school.
For a list of accredited Dental Assisting programs throughout the country, please contact:
The Commission on Dental Accreditation
211 e. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, il 60611
The list can also be found through ada online, the ada’s Website, at http://www.ada.org
Good luck in your career, it sounds like you’re on the right path!
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