Students must consider a number of factors before selecting a dental assistant certificate program that suits their individualized academic and professional needs. First, they must identify the function for which they wish to work. Oral surgeons perform routine procedures like extracting teeth and repairing broken or chipped teeth; dentists perform major dental surgeries like root canal treatments and dental implants. In a dental assisting organization, a dentist is typically responsible for handling both clinical and administrative duties. Dental hygienists help patients maintain proper oral hygiene; dental technicians prepare and install dental equipment and dentists provide preventive, cosmetic, and preventative services.
Most dental programs require students to choose one of three specialties: orthodontics, prosthodontics, or dentistry. Each specialized area requires specific training and credentials. Students will be required to pass an exam to earn a certificate in any of these areas. In Dallas Dental Assistant School, students are encouraged to select more than one specialty. These programs require additional coursework, credit, and exams.
Students completing dental assistant certificate program at a community college are not expected to specialize. The coursework and credit requirements for these programs are often similar to those of the associate degree programs. Some community college programs require students to complete a semester of 500 hours of coursework and either an internship or rotational leave. In addition, students complete clinical hours and credit during the summer between semesters.
Students complete an approved associate’s degree or certificate program in dental assisting before starting an associate’s degree or certificate program. Students completing an associate’s degree and becoming certified also must complete a year of approved supervised apprenticeship after successfully completing the associate degree. These programs typically take two years to complete. Certificate programs offer slightly faster completion time than the associate degree programs. Many certificate programs offer financial assistance for the cost of textbooks, tuition, and room and board.
Students complete the coursework and work towards a final certification in a period of eighteen months to two years. The first year of dental assistant certificate program is the foundation for students learning how to perform dental radiography. Students learn the principles of dental radiography by learning about and studying the structure and function of dental images. They gain valuable experience in completing dental images and creating dental films. Students learn how to read dental images and create dental films with ease. All courses are classroom based and students learn through lectures, hands-on training, and clinical experience.
During the second year of dental assistant certificate program, students work towards their final diplomas. Students complete the core requirements and will need to participate in the externship. Students complete the externship by participating in one or more field trips offered by their dentist. Field trips are opportunities for students to observe in the workplace and get first-hand knowledge from actual dentist working there. Students also complete a series of clinical rotations during the externship year.
The third year of dental assistant certificate program consists of the clinical year and the externship. Students complete the core requirements of the program and are required to participate in the externship. Students complete both the clinical and externship during this time. The clinical is a one-time opportunity to work with patients on a short-term basis for up to a maximum of one hour.
Students can complete their dental assistant certificate program at their own pace. They do not have to meet all course requirements at the same time. If a student is taking only certain classes, they are allowed to skip courses that do not apply to their situation. This is especially helpful for those who are self-directed and want to take more control over their education. Online dental assistants may also choose to take more classes, but the courses are still administered and completed on-site in the classroom.