Steps to becoming a dental assistant
Dental assistants help both patients and dentists prepare for exams and procedures. They provide patient care, take x rays, keep records, and schedule appointments. This career path is great for those who want to help others and be part of a team. How can you enter the field of dental assisting? Follow these steps to get started!
#1 - Dental Assistant Training
Many dental offices prefer to employ dental assistants with a formal education and who have graduated from an accredited program. At Porter and Chester Institute, we offer a Dental Assisting program that covers the administrative and chairside clinical functions of dental assistants. You can learn how to:
- Take patient histories and vital signs
- Take dental impressions
- Construct temporary crowns and bleaching trays
- Place sealants
- Expose digital images and analog x rays
- Assist in chairside procedures like dental exams, restorations, oral surgery and others
Your training will be conducted by instructors who have worked in the industry. Their years of experience will help you learn what a day in the life of a dental assistant is really like, so you'll be ready to dive in on your first day of the job.
#2 - Complete a Dental Assistant Externship
In our Dental Assisting program, you'll train with the latest tools and equipment in our industry-modeled lab, which simulates the environment of actual dentist offices. The final term is a 335-hour externship where you apply your training at a dental office, clinic, or other dental facility during daytime hours. This is your chance to take your skills into the real world! Once you complete your externship and graduate from your training program, you'll be ready to take the next step.
#3 - Sit for Your Dental Assisting Licensing Exam
Now it's time to put your knowledge and skills to the test-literally. Radiology and infection control certifications are credentials many employers look for and can help you stand out as a job candidate. At Porter and Chester Institute, students may sit for the DANB Radiation Health and Safety exam and the Infection Control exam any time after completing the appropriate coursework - and the cost of the exams is covered as part of your education at PCI.
Radiology and Infection Control certificates can be applied toward the Certified Dental Assisting (CDA) exam, as can the General Chairside Assisting exam. PCI graduates who wish to sit foe the General Chairside Assisting exam may do so after working 3500 hours in the field (approximately 2 years).
#4 - Apply for a Job as a Dental Assistant
It's time to get to work! Graduates of the Dental Assisting program at Porter and Chester Institute will have the knowledge and skills needed for employment as a dental assistant in dental offices, clinics, hospitals, laboratories or public health departments. Be sure to add your new education and certifications to your resume before you start to apply!
Are ready to take your first step toward becoming a dental assistant? New classes in our 10-month Dental Assisting program start several times a year at most of our campus locations. Visit our Dental Assisting program page to learn more and request information.