Students enrolled in an expanded duty certificate program for dental assistants and technicians spend classroom and laboratory time learning how to perform advanced chairside duties for dentists and oral surgeons. A program may also include a clinical component or internship that allows students work in a private practice or a clinic. Depending on the state, an educational program might prepare students to take the Expanded Function Dental Assistant certification examination.
Applicants must have a high school diploma and postsecondary degree in dental assisting. Many schools also require that students have either a Certified Dental Assistant credential from the American Dental Association (ADA) or licensure to practice as a dental hygienist. Additional requirements might include the completion of at least six months of full-time chairside assistance duty in a dentist's office. These programs aren't commonly offered online.
Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate
Many of the certificate program's courses are hands-on in nature, providing students with practical experience in advanced dental assistant duties and procedures. These include removing sutures, placing post-surgery packs, monitoring nitrous oxide administration, fabricating temporary crowns and more. Courses may include the following:
- Expanded dental assisting functions
- Dental radiology
- Infection control
- Post-surgery procedures
- Surgical chairside assistance
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific data for oral surgery assistants, but does report that dental assistants in general held 318,800 positions in 2014. An 18% percent job growth is expected for this profession from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported in 2015 that dental assistants earned a median annual wage of $35,980.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) exams for the states of Washington, Oregon, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and Arizona. Specific requirements vary by state, and they can be found on the DANB website (www.danb.org). Some states use DANB's COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant) certification or CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) as a requirement in order to perform expanded functions.
Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate program curriculum covers infection control, radiology, surgical operations and other topics to help experienced dental assistants and hygienists gain the training they need to assist with oral surgery procedures. Opportunities to gain hands-on experience are also included in the program.