Oral Surgery Assistant Certification and Certificate Program Info

Some universities offer an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate program that can provide regular dental assistants with the skills necessary to earn a position in the field of oral surgery. There are no certificate programs specifically designed for aspiring oral surgical assistants or technicians. However, students interested in the field can enroll in an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate program at a 4-year university or vocational college.

Essential Information

Students enrolled in an expanded duty certificate program for dental assistants 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 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.

  • Prerequisites: High school diploma, post-secondary degree, dental licensure.
  • Online Availability: Not commonly offered online.
  • Other Requirements: Practical experience or an internship may be required.

Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate

These programs are typically made available to professional dental assistants who have already completed at least six months of full-time chairside assistance duty in a dentist's office. Interested students should either be certified dental assistants or licensed dental hygienists.

A high school diploma and a postsecondary degree in dental assisting are standard prerequisites. 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.

An oral surgery assistant, also referred to as a dental surgery assistant or an oral surgical technician, is responsible for performing laboratory duties and assisting oral surgeons. 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 from oral surgery procedures, 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 314,330 positions across the country in May 2014, and 25 percent growth is expected from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). The majority of those individuals worked for dentists' offices, physicians' offices or offices of physicians. The BLS reported in 2014 that oral surgery assistants earned a median annual wage of $35,390.

Certification Information

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 state use DANB's COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant) certification or CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) as a requirement in order to perform expanded functions.

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