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Dental Assistant Schools Online

Like many medical professionals, dentists tend to be overworked and, due to the rigorous education process required to safely perform dental operations, few and far between. Understandably, the need for qualified dental assistants to shoulder the growing load is increasing. Even with the inclusion of the dental hygienist, whose duties exclusively involve teeth-cleaning and gum hygiene, a dentist can still expect to get a mouthful about inconvenient appointment times from their backlogged patients. However, because a dental assistant will actually assist a dentist with work on a patient’s teeth and gums, an entirely online dental assistant education can only be completed by students with the required two years of on-the-job work experience.

As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2012 Occupational Outlook Handbook (BLS.gov, 2012) projects the dental assistant profession to grow 34 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than all other professions and even outpacing the field of dentistry as well. Growth is expected to increase as the current and future generations of Americans are keeping their natural teeth longer, further increasing the need for preventive dental maintenance.

Below is more about the online dental assistant focus available from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

The online schools listed through SchoolsGalore.com can help students prepare for the dental assistant certification exam and earn the title of Certified Dental Assistant. There are also online dental assistant courses for those who already have prior on-the-job training or experience in a dentist's office but need certification.

While the job description of a dental assistant can vary from state to state and office to office, a dental assistant’s duties typically include the following: preparing patients for treatments, process x-rays, performing lab work, sterilizing dental instruments, processing materials for teeth casts and crowns, processing patient billing and keep patient records. If the dental assistant meets their state’s regulations and possesses the appropriate certifications, a dental assistant can also perform sealant and fluoride applications as well as coronal polishing.

Many of the more reputable online dental assistant programs will prepare you to manage the reception area and offices of a dental practice, as well as assisting dentists and dental hygienists in actual dental procedures. Because the dental assistant works both in the office and in treatment areas, subjects of study can include both the necessary health care and health administration education, such as preventive medicine and patient billing, in addition to the specialized training about the teeth, gums, jaws and radiography.

According to the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012), certified dental assistant exam applicants must have completed an accredited online or campus-based program, or have a high school diploma and completed the required amount of on-the-job training, in addition to possessing current CPR certification..

Online dental assistant courses may focus around preparing graduates to take the Dental Assisting Nation Board’s Certified Dental Assistant exam and to receive the title of CDA. The certification is granted upon successful completion of the three component exams: the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, the Infection Control (ICE) exam and the General Chairside (GC) exam.

The educational requirements for a dental assistant seeking U.S. employment vary somewhat from state to state with some states requiring a college degree in dental assisting while others require only on-the-job training and a license or registration (DANB.org). Check into individual state regulations before enrolling in any online dental assisting course at the DANB website.

The national median salary for a dental assistant in May of 2011 was listed by the BLS (BLS.gov, 2012) at $34,140 per year. Many dental assistants were reported to work full time in local dentist offices (BLS.gov, 2012) and the employment outlook for dental assistants is expected to grow up to 31 percent (BLS.gov, 2012) between 2010 and 2020.

Online dental assistant programs can also be completed within nine to eleven months, depending on the individual student and prior work experience. There are, of course, also the two-year dental assistant degree programs which award an associate degree following the program’s completion.

Learn more about accredited online dental assistant programs & training from schools and colleges through SchoolsGalore.com:

As you search for online schools for dental assisting programs, verify that you are enrolling in an accredited dental assisting program which is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the American Dental Association or another accrediting organization that is nationally or regionally recognized. Accreditation is not given out lightly; accredited online dental colleges and universities are thoroughly evaluated and must pass a series of exams and inspections to achieve their status.

Because there are so many qualified schools around the county and online, producing a “top dental assistant schools” list would be impossible. Throughout the U.S., certification and licensure as a dental assistant and proven experience with applicable dental and radiological technologies carries far more importance than where the education was received. 

Sources and further reading:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Dental Assisting Nation Board’s Certified Dental Assistant exam
American Dental Association
Commission on Dental Accreditation