Orthodontic Assistant Certificate and Certification Programs

Orthodontic assistant programs are uncommon; however, dental assistant certificate programs, which are similar, are abundantly available. Both options take about one year to finish and train individuals to help dental professionals with chairside procedures.

Essential Information

Those interested in pursuing a certificate in orthodontic assisting may only find the program at a handful of colleges, while a dental assisting certificate program is found at many community colleges and vocational schools. Regardless of the program chosen, applicants are generally required to submit documents including immunization history and CPR certification. While licensure is required to work, certification is optional and may be obtained through a professional orthodontic association.


Certificate in Orthodontic Assisting

Orthodontic assistant students are trained to help an orthodontist with procedures related to straightening the teeth, such as adjusting braces, making impressions, taking x-rays and helping with office administrative duties. To learn to complete these tasks effectively, students study anatomical structures of the head and neck, dental terminology and how to work with orthodontic devices. Program coursework may include topics like:

  • Sterilization
  • Radiology
  • Workplace safety
  • Records management
  • Fixed and removable orthodontic appliances
  • Orthodontic materials

Certificate in Dental Assisting

Dental assisting certificates prepare individuals to work in a wide variety of dental offices, from general dentistry practices to oral surgeons' offices. Students in this program learn to work with dental materials like polymers, ceramics and metals, which are used in the creation of mouth guards, bleaching trays and dental models. Other courses students can take include:

  • Chairside dental assisting
  • Dental radiology
  • Health and nutrition education
  • Biodental sciences
  • Clinical practice

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to 2014 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities are expected to be excellent for dental assistants through 2024; the career field is expected to grow by 18% in the next 10 years. The BLS also reported that the 2015 mean salary for dental assistants was $36,920, though wages ranged from $24,950 to $50,660.

Continuing Education Information

Orthodontic professionals who hold a certificate in dental or orthodontic assisting may be able to apply coursework towards a dental hygienist degree program. While not mandated to be able to practice, earning a national certification in dental assisting may boost pay opportunities and career competitiveness. State licensure is typically required of graduates before they may practice as a dental assistant.

Students who would like to be orthodontist assistants can get an orthodontic assistant certificate or a dental assistant certificate. These programs generally take one year to complete. Graduates can pursue employment in the fast-growing field of dental assisting, or they can pursue a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene or a similar field.


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