Are you interested in dental assisting? When you decide to pursue a dental career, you must complete the necessary registered dental assistant training and programs to work in a dental office.
To help you begin the process, keep reading to learn more about how to obtain a dental assistant license.
Dental Assistant Programs
When continuing education after high school, you have many options. Dental assisting programs have gained popularity recently due to advanced research developments, increased demands, and incredible employment opportunities.
To become a registered dental assistant, you must take a one- to two-year dental assisting program certified by your state’s Commission of Dental Accreditation, or CODA. Successful completion time depends on whether you want a diploma, certificate, or applied science degree.
Dental Assistant Certification
You should visit the American Dental Assistants Association website to learn, based on your state’s requirements, which exams you need to complete to obtain your certification or license.
The Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) also offers information about additional certification courses for specialty areas. Taking programs like infection control and other state mandates can allow you to become a licensed Dental Assistant II.
Dental Assistant Training
Often, a dental hygiene program offers additional training through an externship. Externships enable you to use dental materials, learn about patient care, practice oral health and understand dental treatment procedures while you’re still a student. Externships allow you to exercise your dental skill in actual dental practices with patients.
Often, dental care offices require multiple years of experience. Aspiring dental assistants can gain experience in entry-level jobs or through licensed dentist externships.
Dental Hygienist Assistant Requirements
A dental hygienist assistant’s duties include preparing patient rooms, developing x-rays, applying fluoride, discussing patient after-care plans, and anything else the lead dental hygienist needs.
To become a dental hygienist assistant, you must obtain a dental assisting degree that includes a dental hygiene program and then gain experience working in an office.
While not all states require it, taking the DANB certification exam can give you a leg up when applying.
Registered Dental Assistant Requirements
To become a registered dental assistant, you’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Obtain a high school or general education diploma (DED).
- Take a dental assisting program that CODA accepts.
- Complete the DANB Registered Dental Assistant certification exam.
- Obtain and renew your American Medical Technologists Association membership.
You can expect to spend a few years after high school becoming a certified dental assistant. Each dental assisting program’s time varies based on state and education level.
Dental Assistant Requirements by State
Each American state and Canadian province enforces different dental assisting program requirements in the interest of public health and public safety. Depending on where you live, you will need to meet varying requirements and achieve different certifications or degrees to become a licensed dentist assistant.
For example, not all states require a degree beyond a high school diploma to receive your certification or license. Dental assistant prospects should continue reading below to learn about their state’s program information.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Texas
Entry-level dental assistants in Texas do not need any special training or education. To become a registered dental assistant (RDA) so that you can perform more complex dental procedures, you must:
- Obtain a high school diploma.
- Complete a life support course.
- Finish the DANB Certified Dental Assistant Exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Assessment.
- Complete the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) training course covering infection control.
- Acquire the TSBDE RDA registration.
- Complete a background check.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Florida
You can begin dental program training in an office under supervision in Florida without any education, licenses, or certificates. During this time, you can gain significant experience before or while furthering your education.
To work beyond the level of entry-level services, you must complete a CODA-accredited education program for dental assisting or hygiene. Instead, you may also choose to go through an expanded-duties formal training program (approved by the Florida Board).
Dental Assistant Requirements in California
To become a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA), California requires that you go through these steps:
- Complete a California-Board-approved RDA program or work with a licensed dentist for 15 months.
- Pass the radiation safety and coronal polishing courses.
- Complete a Dental Practice Act Board-approved course within five years.
- Go through an eight-hour infection control course within five years.
- Finish an approved life support course.
- Pass a background check.
- Finish the RDA law and ethics written and general exams.
Georgia Dental Assistant Requirements
You may work in Georgia as a dental assistant without formal education, though many dental examiners’ offices will prefer that you obtain a diploma from an accredited program. Typically, you can get a health science degree in a few semesters, though a dental assisting certificate may take longer.
You can choose between 12 different CODA-accredited programs in Georgia to strengthen your resume when applying for jobs. Georgia has the best access to accredited courses in the nation.
Tennessee Dental Assistant Requirements
Tennessee has some of the most relaxed requirements in the United States for becoming a registered dental assistant. To be an RDA, you must:
- Be over 18 years old.
- Obtain a high school degree or general education diploma (GED).
- Pass a background check.
- Complete a Basic Life Support or CPR course.
Remember that you will need additional training to work in radiology or restorative and prosthetic functions.
Ohio Dental Assistant Requirements
In Ohio, you may work as basic qualified personnel in a dental assistant job by acquiring the Hepatitis B vaccine and attending dental school or completing training under a licensed dentist.
If you wish to work with nitrous oxide, you must:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have over 3,000 hours and two years of job experience.
- Complete a life support course.
- Go through a six-hour nitrous oxide course.
Colorado Dental Assistant Requirements
Working as a dental assistant in Colorado does not require formal education or training. With this level of qualification, you may perform basic supportive procedures.
If you wish to complete more complex functions, you can choose the Expanded Duties Dental Assistant program or meet the radiography requirements, including additional training hours. Typically, radiography training includes clinical hours, lecture programs, and the DANB Radiation Health and Safety exam.
Washington State Dental Assistant Requirements
RDAs in Washington State may complete all standard supportive actions. To become a registered dental assistant in Washington State, you must:
- Pass a Basic Life Support training program that includes an HIV/AIDS course.
- Meet state requirements for operating radiography equipment.
- Go through 14 hours of training courses if you wish to monitor sedation treatments.
- Earn a sealant endorsement through an approved program if you wish to treat children.
Dental Assistant Requirements Arizona
As an Arizona dental assistant, you can only complete more advanced tasks by meeting specific requirements:
- Dental radiography: You must pass the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam.
- Coronal polishing (CP): Pass the CP Exam and complete the required session hours.
- Expanded functions: Complete the Expanded Functions Dental Assistant course, which includes three different tests.
Most dental offices prefer hiring candidates with one or more of the above qualifications.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Utah
To work as a dental assistant in Utah, you must acquire the supervision of a licensed dentist and complete a Basic Cardiac Life Support or CPR certification. With this level of training, you may complete basic supportive procedures.
To work in radiography, you will need to:
- Pass a CODA-accredited dental assisting course.
- Complete the DANB RHS test or a Dental Hygienist Licensing Board-approved radiology course.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Canada
As in the United States, Canada’s dental assistant requirements vary based on your practice level. You can choose between the following categories:
- Level I: Chairside assistants may complete x-rays, sterilize equipment, offer patient instructions, and more.
- Level II: Level II assistants may apply anesthetics, take teeth impressions, and complete intraoral duties.
To work as a Canadian dental assistant, you must pass a dental assisting program, obtain a certification, and complete the National Dental Assisting exam.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Alberta
Alberta, Canada, requires that you complete the following steps to become a registered dental assistant:
- Finish a dental assistant education program.
- Pass the National Board Certificate written exam or meet Labour Mobility requirements.
- Obtain current practice with practice hours, refresher courses, or recent certifications.
- Be of good character with a clean criminal record and verification of standing.
Dental Assistant Requirements in Ontario
To work as a dental assistant in Ontario, Canada, you must attend a community college or private career college that teaches dental assisting. You should also receive certification through The Ontario Dental Assistants Association (ODAA).
The ODAA wants to ensure that you can adequately treat all patients across various practices. The more training you acquire, the more you can build your career.
If you’re interested in beginning your dental assistant journey, now’s a great time to start. Whether you live in New York State, California, or anywhere in between, your requirements may vary.
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