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How Long Are Dental Assisting Classes?

Dental assistant jobs are on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an astounding 19% increase in dental assistant employment within the next seven years. The increasing demand, the good pay, and streamlined certification make dental assisting an attractive career choice. This in-demand field has many students wondering “how long are dental assisting classes?”. Those that choose the correct path can earn their diploma in dental assisting and begin their new career in as little as 10 months.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

A dental assistant is the oil in the dental office machine. They perform many tasks ranging from chair-side patient care to office management. Duties will vary based on the state of employment as well as on an office-to-office basis. The office duties may include scheduling appointments, record-keeping and inventory management.

The main duties of a dental assistant revolve around patient care. There are two levels of dental assistants: basic dental assistant (DA) and expanded duties dental assistant (EDDA).  

What Are the Differences Between Dental Assistant and Expanded Duties Dental Assistant?

What are the differences between a DA and EDDA?  Simply put, an EDDA is a higher trained dental assistant that can perform more tasks independently of the dentist. These responsibilities include:

• Operate dental X-ray equipment to provide the dentist with dental radiographs
• Create dental models that will be used to make patient impressions
• Apply sealants, fluoride varnish, and coronal polishing
• Fill cavities by placing and condensing amalgam and composite
• Fabricate and place temporary crowns
• Record patient medical history, blood pressure, and pulse

As expected, expanded duties dental assistants make more money than a basic dental assistant.

How Do I Become An Expanded Duties Dental Assistant?

A reputable and marketable dental assisting program can take as little as 10 months to complete. Training is provided in a fully functioning dental lab. Those skills are then refined in the field during externship.  

Differences Between Online and Hands-On Dental Assisting Classes

There are no truly online programs for expanded duties dental assisting. Online dental assisting programs still require in-person lab training and externships to become fully certified. Some training requirements, such as x-ray machine operating, require more classes in addition to their standard online program.

Hands-on classroom dental assistant programs combine all the necessary training into one program. With these dental assisting classes, you will receive the most hands-on training that will reflect real-world experience. Students have more in-person involvement. In person, teachers and students can interact in real-time to ensure the deepest understanding of the course material.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Dental Assistant?

Online courses are available in 16-week programs. It is important to note, however, that most of these courses only train you as a basic dental assistant. These schools require you to enroll in additional training to become certified as an expanded duties dental assistant. This, of course, requires more time at an additional cost.

Hands-on classroom programs are available in most major cities, as well as many smaller cities. These classrooms are usually designed to emulate real-life dental offices with exam chairs, dental tools, x-ray machines, and more. Programs are either 10 or 11 months long but resulting in the same training, so most people opt for the shorter, less expensive 10-month program.

Which Dental Assisting Class is Right for Me?

These days, online courses are becoming commonplace for advanced education. They are advertised as flexible and efficient, but the quality of education is always in question. Questionable quality is especially true in regards to hands-on occupations like dental assisting.

Hands-on classroom dental assistant programs will give you real-life job training. Dental assisting requires more than academic know-how. With hands-on training, you will be able to walk into your first job with confidence in your hand’s abilities as well as your mind’s. Understandably, dentists prefer to hire dental assistants with hands-on experience.  

What Do I Do After I Complete My Dental Assistant Program?

The best dental assisting schools offer career services. They instruct graduating students and alumni in preparation of cover letters, resume writing, interviewing techniques, and networking skills. Career Services may also provide job placement assistance.  When selecting a dental assistant school, it is important to research which career services are offered. It can mean the difference between leaving the program with a diploma or leaving the program with a job.

If you are looking to jump-start your career as an expanded duties dental assistant, Medquest College can help. Our Louisville, KY dental assistant school and Lexington, KY dental assistant school offer ABHES accredited, top-quality, hands-on training. In 10 short months, you can have the qualifications and confidence needed to step right into a high-paying dental assistant position. Contact Us to learn more about how we can help launch your career.