Dental Assisting FAQs
Are There Prerequisites For Program Admission?
To begin most dental assistant programs, you must have successfully completed high school, and have some familiarity with biology and chemistry. Some programs will also require you to have a current Level C CPR certification.
What Material will Schooling Cover?
Once you have been admitted to a program, you will take general courses in nutrition, professional ethics, anatomy, physiology, biology, and chemistry. These courses will be supported by your program's core courses such as orofacial anatomy, general and oral microbiology, dental radiology, dental health education and clinical practice, to name a few.
At the end of your program, you should be well prepared to take the certification and license examinations.
What are the Certification and Licensing Requirements?
Beyond a Level C CPR certification, there are a number of specific certifications that a dental assistant may be required by their employer to maintain.
The Dental Assistant Regulatory Authorities (DARA) manage the certification and licensing of dental assistants, and each province has a DARA office.* You will be required to sit for the national examination given through the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB).** You may also be required to complete DARA's Clinical Practice Evaluation.
There are a number of licenses that are held by dental assistants that demonstrate proficiency in specific skill areas. The areas of specialization you choose will determine which licenses you will need. These include:
- Certified Dental Assistant
- Certified Orthodontic Assistant
- Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant
- Certified Restorative Functions Assistant
Licenses for each of the above titles can provide the opportunity for entrance to a specialized field of dentistry.
What Does Employment in This Field Currently Look Like?
According to Job Bank:
- The placement rate for dental assistants is good, and the unemployment rate within this sector in Canada is quite low.
- Approximately 77% of dental assistants are employed full time.
- The average annual income for dental assistants is $45,760 as of November 2016.
- The field is dominated by women, with 98% of dental assistant positions in Canada filled by women.***
What are the Usual Responsibilities of the Job?
The duties required of a dental assistant include, but are not limited to:
- Gathering and registering patient information
- Organizing dental instruments and equipment
- Facilitating patient care
- Preparing dental materials
Other duties may include:
- Providing emergency care to patients
- Diagnosing oral problems
- Preparing a plan of treatment
- Fitting fixed or removable dental appliances
- Managing patient records
- Managing patient care during dental procedures
Find the Right Dental Assistant School for You
In order to work toward a position as a professional in this promising field, it is important that you look for a school that can prepare you to become licensed and certified. Dental assisting programs strive to do this by teaching the essentials of the field, such as how to prepare patients for procedures and maintain their records. You could even learn how to take on more advanced responsibilities like performing and processing x-rays.
Training to become a dental assistant can lead you to good long-term job prospects, steady employment, and a good income. The first step on this career path is choosing the school that will best suit your needs as a student and best prepare you for the specialization you wish to take on.
Take the Next Step:
* Canadian Dental Assistants' Association (CDAA), website last accessed on April 20, 2017.
** The National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB), website last accessed on July 26, 2016.
*** Government of Canada, Job Bank, website last accessed on January 17, 2017.