A Helpful Guide to Becoming a Certified Dental Assistant

Becoming a dental assistant is an excellent career choice for those interested in dentistry and who enjoy working with people. Dental assistants work closely with dentists and help them with various aspects of dental procedures. They are integral dental team members and play a crucial role in ensuring patients receive the best possible dental care. If you want to become a dental assistant, this article will guide you through the essential steps you need to take.

Educational Requirements

To become a dental assistant, you must have a high school diploma or GED. However, most dental assistants complete a dental assisting program at a vocational school or community college. 

These programs usually take anywhere from nine to twelve months to complete and offer a comprehensive education in dental assisting. In addition to classroom instruction, students must complete a certain number of hours of clinical experience working in a dental office.


Although dental assistant certification is not mandatory to work as a dental assistant, it is highly recommended. Certified dental assistants have completed a rigorous education and training program and have passed a certification exam.

Certification can be earned through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) or state-specific dental assistant certification programs. Certification is a valuable asset that can increase your employability and earning potential.

Skills and Qualities

To be a successful dental assistant, you need to have a range of skills and qualities. These include excellent communication skills, attention to detail, the ability to multitask, and a strong work ethic.

Dental assistants should also be comfortable working close to patients and be able to provide compassionate care. Additionally, dental assistants should be able to work well as part of a team and be willing to take direction from the dentist.

Job Duties

The job duties of a dental assistant vary depending on the dental office and the specific procedures being performed. Some of the typical responsibilities of a dental assistant include:

  1. Preparing patients for dental procedures by seating them and ensuring their comfort.
  2. Sterilizing instruments and preparing dental materials.
  3. Assisting the dentist during procedures by passing instruments and materials.
  4. Taking and developing dental X-rays.
  5. Educating patients on proper oral hygiene techniques.
  6. Maintaining patient records and scheduling appointments.
  7. Cleaning and stocking treatment rooms.
  8. Assisting with administrative tasks such as billing and insurance claims.

Career Advancement

Dental assisting is a rewarding career, but it also offers opportunities for advancement. Experienced dental assistants can become office managers, dental hygienists, or even dentists with additional education and training. Additionally, dental assistants can specialize in a particular area of dentistry, such as orthodontics or pediatric dentistry.


Becoming a dental assistant is an excellent career choice for those who are interested in working in the field of dentistry and enjoy helping people. With the right education, skills, and qualities, you can begin a rewarding career as a dental assistant. Whether you are just starting or looking to advance your career, many opportunities are available in this exciting field.

Obtain a dental assistant certification from Northwest Suburban College and start your journey toward a fulfilling career in dental assisting. Our program provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this field. Contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help you achieve your career goals.

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