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Dental Assistant Schools and Colleges

There is not just one way to become a dental assistant, in fact, there are several paths student can take to pursue this career. In some states dentals assistants are required to graduate from an accredited dental assisting program and take a state examination before they can practice. Other states do not have formal education or licensing requirements. However, most states do restrict the extent to which dental assistants can practice dentistry by enforcing regutations, but again regulations vary by state.

Students who intend on entering the dental assisting professional should prepare early by taking courses in chemistry, biology and anatomy while in high school. Most dental assistant training programs are about 1 year long and lead to a diploma or certificate in dental assisting. These programs are offered at vocational schools and community colleges. Some programs offered by community colleges take two years to complete and lead to an associate's degree. As of 2011, there were 285 dental-assisting programs in United States that were accredited by the Commission of Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Dental assisting programs typically include classroom lecture and on-hands training via laboratory work in a clinical setting. In the lab students learn about teeth, jaws, gums and explore all the instruments that dentists use to perform their duties.

Dental assistants who do not receive a formal education learn their profession through on-the-job training. While not as common, there are still several states that allow dental assists to practice dental assisting without any type of formal education.

While licensure and certification requirements vary by state, dental assistants frequently must pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam which is sponsored by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Those students required to take the CDA exam must first graduate high school (or get their GED), successfully complete an accredited dental assisting program and receive on-the-job training or clinical lab experience.

Below you'll find a national directory of schools and colleges offering approved dental assisting programs.

  Dental Assisting Schools and Colleges by State
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