How to Become a Dental Assistant
Do you have a passion for health and people? Are you looking for a career in the dental field? It’s hard to decide on a career path at any age or phase in your life, but if you’re ready for the next step, this international college in Toronto has what you need to make the leap and join the workforce.
What Does a Dental Assistant Do?
Dental assistants are the crucial backbone to dental teams, aiding with administrative work and of course assisting the dentists themselves. Your job can include research and working with suppliers and vendors in addition to your main tasks. Ultimately, the specific duties you will be fulfilling in your workplace will depend on where specifically you work, and what the provincial laws are.
The good thing about this job is that every day is something new, so you won’t get bored easily!
What High School Credentials Do I Need to Be a Dental Assistant?
When you’ve finished your formal training and obtained a degree as a dental assistant at an accredited school such as Cestar College, you must also obtain your certification from the Ontario Dental Assistants Association (ODAA) in order to start practicing your dental work.
In Ontario, you’ll need an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) in order to get into a dental assistant program. This includes a grade 12 English credit, a grade 11 or 12 chemistry or biology credits, and a grade 12 Math credit. When you’re 16, 17 or 18, it’s hard to guess what credits you’ll need for the future if you don’t already know your career path, but don’t sweat it. If you’ve graduated and need those credits for your program, the Ontario government has an adult learning program to help you complete your requirements.
Additionally, if you didn’t get your high school diploma, that’s not an issue either; you can also get that with provincial help at any age. Once you ensure you pass these requirements, you’ll be well on your way to starting your education as a dental assistant at Cestar’s college in Toronto.
The Difference Between Level I and Level II Dental Assistant
Dental assisting programs in Ontario ensure through practical and theory courses that students will be able to take on Level I and Level II dental assistant roles.
A Level I dental assistant is a chairside assistant whose job it is to prep the patient for a procedure, chart their information, sterilize dental equipment and the clinical area, and make cast models. In addition to that, they also provide patients with post-operative care instructions and maintain dental supplies.
Level II dental assistants are those who are formally trained in dentistry and have completed all required certifications. These are the assistants who can also obtain impressions and occlusal records for dental bases, apply desensitizing agents and fissure sealants, among other things.
The more certified a dental assistant is, the higher their pay grade and the more responsibilities they have. A certified Level I, newly graduated dental assistant makes on average $20.34 an hour. A Level II new grad earns around $22.42 an hour, according to the ODAA.
To become a dental assistant, you’ll have to become familiar with ethics, anatomy and physiology, dental radiography, pharmacology patient care, oral microbiology and preventive and emergency care. You should also experience field placements; like with placements in any field, they help you network and fine-tune your skills for your career. Before taking your qualifications exam, you’ll have had to do everything from being a chair-side assistant to removing sutures, in order to make sure all bases are covered for your final exams.
Completing your Exam
Your program can take nine months to two years to complete, depending on if you are gaining a certificate, diploma, or degree—which you can get from Cestar’s international college in Toronto. Everyone has to sit and take the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB), even if they still have formal experience outside of Canada. For a first-time exam writer, the test will cost $525, broken down into a $425 exam fee and a $100 application fee. To rewrite the test, it’ll cost $450, the same exam fee but with a $25 application fee instead.
In order to take the exam with NDAEB, you must mail in an application to the NDAEB office in Ottawa. It must contain proof of the completion of your dental assisting education, being a transcript or diploma, or a letter from the school with the estimated completion date of the program. You must also pay the full fee for the test upfront. Once you are reviewed and approved, the NDAEB will send an email to you from which you can access your registration information.
Two to three weeks before the scheduled exam, you will receive an admission letter with the date, time, and location of the exam, which you will need to present with government-issued ID in order to enter the exam room. If you need testing accommodations, the NDAEB will provide that so long as the accommodations are approved in advance. These include changes in exam dates due to religious practices, the need for extra time, a separate room, an exam reader or scribe, or assistive technology. Make sure that you apply on time for your desired test date; the NDAEB exams are only scheduled four times per year.
The test itself is broken down into eight sections. These include: professional conduct, dental sciences, clinical support procedures, patient records, patient care procedures, practice management procedures, laboratory procedures, and preventative procedures. Once the test is taken and passed, you’re all set to start your career as a dental assistant!
Cestar College’s Dental Assistant Program
It’s hard to choose what you want to do in life, and sometimes it’s harder to imagine how you’re going to get to your end goal, but Cestar College will help prepare you for your future in the dental field. This international college in Toronto can help you fulfill all of your necessary classes, learned skills, and requirements to ensure that you have a happy and successful career as a dental assistant.