How to Become a Dental Assistant

Becoming a Dental Assistant – Overview

The growing demand for quality dental care in the US makes dental assistants a popular career choice.

The dental field is flourishing with research advancements and rising demand for preventive dental care.

If you want to become a dental assistant, you’ve come to the right place. This article will explain the benefits of this career.

This article will also describe the steps to becoming a certified dental assistant in the US.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do

You must be eager to get into a certified dental assistant program. However, you should know what you are expected to do in this role.

As a dental assistant, you will work under the supervision of a dentist.

You will be required to assist in and perform dental procedures, ensure the dental clinic runs smoothly, and prepare the work area, handle the dental care tools, sterilize them, etc.

Some states even allow dentist assistants to perform more advanced procedures, such as taking tooth impressions and processing X-rays.

You might also be required to handle scheduling, record keeping, and billing.

What are the Career Prospects for a Dentist Assistant

Dentist assistants are in high demand. Depending on the workload and the specific needs of the dentist, dental practices may require one or more assistants.

As a certified dental assistant, you can expect to find employment at:

  • Private dental clinics
  • Specialty services (orthodontics, facial-dental orthopedics, etc.)
  • Hospital dental clinics
  • Schools, public health program sites, clinics
  • Dental school clinics

How to Become a Dental Assistant in 5 Steps

Now that you know the basic expectations and prospects of working as a dental assistant, let’s examine the stepwise procedure for becoming a certified dental assistant.

1 – Get a high school diploma

You must acquire a high school diploma to become a dental assistant right from school.

You should be proficient in anatomy, biology, health sciences, and even office administration.

These subjects provide a foundation that is beneficial for a career as a dental assistant.

2 – Join additional training programs

Some states in the US require prospective dentist assistants to acquire certification from an accredited program.

Simply do an online search for your state, and you can learn about state-specific requirements for becoming a dental assistant.

3 – Enroll in the state-approved certification program

After getting additional certification, you must enroll in a program run by your state’s Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA).

These certification programs usually take one or two years to complete, depending on whether you are pursuing an associate degree, diploma, or certificate.

This certification program teaches you everything you need about gums, teeth, dental instruments, etc.

Completing a certification program may enhance your job prospects as a dental assistant.

4 – Complete licensing requirements

The next step to becoming a dental assistant is completing licensing requirements. Contact your state dental board for specific criteria and application procedures.

You can also choose to visit the official website of the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB).

This way, you can learn about certification and licensure requirements to become a dental assistant.

Some basic requirements for completing the licensing process include:

  • Graduating from an accredited certification program
  • High school diploma or equivalent education qualification
  • Completion of CPR training

Besides this, you can also strengthen your resume by completing the National Entry Level Dental Assistant test.

Specialized roles within dental assisting may require specific certifications or additional training.

5 – Apply for a job

Some dental assistant jobs may require you to have one or more years of experience.

Hence, always apply for dental assistant jobs, which are welcome even by fresh graduates from dental schools.

This is a great way to gain entry into the industry. With experience, you can switch to a more feasible and comfortable position within your dental care service.


These are the simple steps to becoming a dental assistant in the US. Dental assistants need to be proactive, effective, and efficient like other healthcare jobs.

This ensures accurate diagnoses and effective dental treatments for patients. It is highly advisable to work as an extern in a dental clinic setting before finding permanent employment.

Gaining externship experience can enhance your skills and make you more competitive in the job market. Dental assistants are crucial to ensure the proper dental health of the community.

See Also

How to Become a Dental Hygienist

How to Become a Dentist

Cosmetic Dentistry Grants


Does Medicaid Cover Braces

Current Version
March 20, 2022
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 25, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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