Dental assistants work alongside dentists to help provide quality patient care.
To do this, they have a wide range of duties. Though clinical tasks vary based on employer needs and state guidelines.
Clinical – The main aspect of the job is to assist dentists chairside by handing them the proper tools during an exam or procedure, and keeping patients calm during treatment. Depending on a patient’s needs, dental assistants may also take x-rays, remove sutures, explain postoperative instructions, construct temporary bridges or crowns, and prepare compounds needed for making impressions and restorations.
Administrative – Dental assistants may also be responsible for signing in patients, scheduling appointments, processing insurance claims, and answering the telephone.
What Kind of Education is Required to Perform These Duties?
Most employers prefer to hire dental assistants that have received a certificate or diploma from a program (in some states it is a requirement). If you’re concerned about not having time because you need to work while you are in school, don’t be. One way to complete the required coursework is by taking online classes.
How to Select an Online Dental School
Most online programs are at the associate degree or certificate level. Most take one to two years to complete and are offered through community colleges, and profit and non-profit online schools. There are some considerations you should take into account when selecting a program:
- Is the program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation? This is especially important if you live in a state that requires certification.
- Do you have the proper technology to successfully complete online courses?
Clinical and Laboratory Components
These also need to be taken into consideration before you enroll. If the school has a campus, you most likely will need to spend time there in order to successfully complete the clinical and laboratory part of the program. If this does not work with your schedule, it is better to know before you pay tuition for an education you cannot complete.
What is the Difference Between a Certificate and a Degree?
Certificate programs train students in dental office management, practical clinical tasks, medical science, oral health, and professional demeanor; associate degree programs includes these courses, plus classes in liberal arts.
These will vary by school, but you are likely to take:
Anatomy – A general overview of the human body’s anatomy.
Dental Materials – During this course, you will learn dental assistant vocabulary and how to properly use dental materials and tools.
Oral Anatomy – The study of the mouth and teeth.
Oral Radiology – This course will teach you the proper ways to evaluate and take x-rays.
Upon successful completion of your program, you will:
- Understand the role of a dental assistant
- Understand dental insurance
- Know dental practice basics
- Know how to relate to patients in a caring and professional way
Benefits of Online Classes
Schedule Flexibility – Usually you can access your courses any time which allows you to study no matter what time of day.
Study Time – You do not have to sit for a long period of time like you would in a traditional classroom setting. This means you can study for a little or as long as you want at one time.
Saves Money – Not only will you save money on things such as gasoline or bus fare, but chances are you will save money on textbooks as well. This is because most programs have downloadable reading materials.
Potential for Better Grades – Learning at your own pace and in a quieter environment could help you to earn better grades.
If you have any questions about online dental assistant programs, contact us for more information.