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Intra-Oral Dental Assistant: Salary, Requirements and Career Info

Intra-oral dental assistants require little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and necessary skills to see if this is the right career for you.

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Intra-oral dentists, commonly refered to as 'dental assistants,' help dentists with patients and peform administrative office duties. Education and licensure requirements vary by state, but usually these careers require a high school diploma or equivalent, or completion of a state approved program. As a dental assistant you can expect to make just over $35,000 a year.

Essential Information

Intra-oral dental assistant is a career title used in Canada, but the position is the equivalent of an American dental assistant. They have essentially the same job duties and functions, including performing clinical, laboratory and administrative duties as they relate to dental health care. While there are no formal education standards for this career, many prospective dental assistants may seek a certificate or associate's degree. Dental assistants may also obtain optional certification and may be required to adhere to state licensure requirements.

Required Education Requirements vary by state, ranging from a high school diploma to state-approved training program
Other Requirements Licensure requirements vary by state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 18% for all dental assistants
Mean Salary (2015)* $36,920 for all dental assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Intra-Oral Dental Assistant Salary

Dental assistants earned an average annual salary of $36,920 in May, 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The top-paid 10% of dental assistants earned $50,660 a year or more, while the lowest-paid 10% earned $24,950 or less.

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Intra-Oral Dental Assistant Requirements

There are no official requirements for becoming a dental assistant. However, 1- to 2-year certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs are available for those who wish to pursue formal education in dental assisting. Some vocational schools also offer 4- to 6-month programs in dental assisting, but these are not accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Those who choose to forgo formal education can learn the skills required for dental assisting through on-the-job training. Many employers require on-the-job training for new employees, even those who've graduated from an accredited program. This is because dentists run their offices differently. Dental assistants also may need on-the-job training to become familiar with new instruments and procedures since dental technology is constantly changing.

Dental assistants who have graduated from an accredited program or have experience working as a dental assistant can take the Dental Assisting National Board's (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam, which leads to optional certification. Many states require CDA credentials as part of their licensing process, although not all states require licensure. Certification also can be obtained from some state-level organizations. In some states, dental assistants must hold certification and complete additional training before they can perform radiological functions. Continuing education is often required to maintain certification or licensure.

Intra-Oral Dental Assistant Career Information

Dental assistants help dentists by performing administrative office duties, participating in community education events, executing laboratory duties and assisting with patients. Specific duties might include preparing dental instruments and materials, completing dental charting, educating patients on oral care, preparing casting models and fabricating dental appliances. Dental assistants also might manage inventory, collect patient health histories, set appointments, manage records, answer phones and process insurance claims. Those who are qualified to take on expanded job functions might take x-rays, polish teeth, remove sutures, take impressions and give fluoride treatments.

Dental assistants need little besides a high school diploma to enter the field, although there are state-approved programs. As a dental assistant you'll need strong customer service skills, office skills and basic knowledge of dentistry. Becoming a dental assistant can also be a good way of getting your foot into the world of dentistry.

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