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Dental X-Ray Certification and Diploma Programs

Most dental assistants are trained in X-ray as part of dental assisting diploma programs. Those wishing to update their skills can take short certificate programs specifically in dental X-ray.

Essential Information

Instruction in X-ray procedures covers radiation safety, dental radiography and head and neck anatomy. Some states require certification for dental assistants who perform radiographic procedures such as X-rays. Certification usually calls for completion of an approved training program and passing an exam.

  • Program Levels in Dental X-Ray: Certificate program; diploma program.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED and eight hours volunteer work in a dental office (diploma); Certified Dental Assistant (certificate); CPR certification.
  • Program Length: Six to fifteen months (diploma).
  • Online Availability: Online courses and programs are usually not available in this field.

Dental X-Ray Certificate Program

Many schools that offer dental X-ray certificate programs do so as part of state requirements for dental licensure. Students are generally required to complete a formal program from an institution that houses an accredited radiography program. Dental X-ray certificate programs typically consist of a single course.

Dental Assistant Diploma Program

Dental X-ray instruction is more often found as part of a larger diploma program in dental assisting. The diploma program typically lasts between six and fifteen months and covers various sterilization and dental office procedures in addition to X-ray training. Some states require the program to be approved by the American Dental Association in order to qualify graduates for licensing exams. Dental assisting programs cover numerous aspect of the industry and include courses in general sciences, communication, and mathematics. Dental X-rays are an important part of the curriculum, but other aspects of dentistry-specific topics are covered, including:

  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Preventive dentistry
  • Oral pathology
  • Dental assisting
  • Dental radiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

While no careers exist solely in dental X-rays, the procedure is major part of the role of most dental assistants. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that, from 2012 to 2022, jobs for dental assistants are anticipated to grow by 25%. As of 2014, dental assistants earned a median yearly salary of $35,390.

Continuing Education

Some states require dental assistants and hygienists to periodically renew their license in X-ray. In most states, assistants must pass the Radiation Health and Safety exam, which is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), and maintain as many as 100 continuing education hours annually. Dental assistants interested in certification can become Certified Dental Assistants by passing a DANB exam. In order to be eligible for the certification exam, dental assistants must have graduated from an approved program or have two years of full-time work experience. Exams from the DANB are recognized in many states.

Many dental assistants with X-ray knowledge are only a few semesters away from becoming full-fledged dental hygienists. Assistants interested in working as dental hygienists must graduate from associate or bachelor's degree programs in dental hygiene.

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