How to Become Certified Orthodontic Assistant
Dental issues are treated by certified orthodontic assistants who work under the direction of orthodontists. They are primarily responsible for taking X-rays, maintaining and tightening braces, evaluating teeth and the jaw, helping with dental molds, setting up dental tools for the operation, instructing patients on how to care for orthodontic devices, etc. They also take care of office administrative tasks and cavity problems.
Work environments for certified orthodontic assistants include public and private hospitals, dental offices, specialist clinics, and armed forces-owned dental facilities.
How to Become Certified Orthodontic Assistant
To aid patients in achieving optimal dental alignment, an orthodontist works closely with an orthodontic assistant. Getting your high school diploma or the equivalent is the initial requirement for working as an orthodontic assistant. Additionally, you’ll likely need to obtain an associate’s degree in dental assisting. To become an orthodontic assistant, you must first complete your academic education and then have some relevant work experience. After you have worked in this industry for a while, you could also choose to pursue professional certification.
A specialist area of dentistry called orthodontics treats only problems with teeth and jaw alignment. Children who need extensive dental treatment to straighten their teeth are the typical orthodontic patients. Typically, during dental alignment operations, an orthodontist is assisted by an orthodontic assistant. They carry out tasks include taking X-rays, changing braces, and taking tooth imprints. Additionally, orthodontic assistants may clean and set up equipment, get dental records, or get ready patients for dental operations.
While a small level of formal education is also required, the majority of this dental assistant speciality is learned through on-the-job training. You need to have either a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma to work as an orthodontic assistant. Biology and health science classes taken in high school might be beneficial. Before starting any hands-on training, many organizations additionally demand that you obtain an associate’s degree in dental assisting.
A two-year community college, trade school, or technical institute can grant an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Assisting degree. Typically, this degree is enough to start the on-the-job training required to become an orthodontic assistant. During this program, radiography, oral anatomy, infection control, and dental materials are often taught. Additionally taught are dental practices including taking tooth impressions, cleaning teeth, and constructing rubber dams. Some programs offer internship opportunities to give students relevant work experience.
Before you can work as an orthodontic assistant, you need a college degree and a particular amount of real-world experience. Prior to working in this particular sector, employers often require you to take substantial on-the-job training. Orthodontics calls very precise abilities that must be honed over time. To make their patients feel more at ease during sensitive dental treatments, some orthodontists prefer to teach orthodontic assistants crucial people skills first. As a result, you could start off as a front desk employee or regular dental assistant before progressively moving up to a specialist in orthodontics.
You might also choose to pursue professional certification in this industry after receiving enough on-the-job training. Your salary and job prospects may be greatly increased by obtaining a professional certification. The Dental Assisting National Board in the US grants orthodontic assistants professional qualifications. Candidates must hold a high school diploma, relevant professional experience, or a degree in this discipline from college. To get qualified as an orthodontic assistant, a candidate must furthermore take and pass two other exams.
How to Get Into an Orthodontic/Dental Assistant Program
A high school diploma or comparable passing score on the General Education Development test (GED), which enables students who did not finish high school to prove their academic proficiency, are prerequisites for enrollment in a dental assistant program.
After completing high school, you can apply to or enrol in a dental assistant program. Find a program that fits your needs, timetable, and money. Depending on the length and features of the program, costs can range from $3,000 to $13,000. Make sure you enroll in a program that satisfies your state’s certification standards.
In general, applications are not required for certification programs because they are shorter than degree programs and because you can just enroll in the course and make payment arrangements.
If you have to write a statement of purpose outlining your interest in orthodontic assisting, this is a great opportunity to show off your personality and share personal information that will help explain why you chose this line of work. Include a personal tale to highlight your distinct life experience as well as the traits you believe will make you a successful dental or orthodontic assistant when you discuss your qualifications.
What Do Orthodontic Assistants Do?
Orthodontist assistants (OA), also referred to as orthodontic hygienists, are trained dental assistants who assist patients who are receiving or wearing dental equipment. They might make impressions of the teeth, adjust braces, and take oral x-rays and pictures. Generally speaking, completing a dental assisting certificate or degree program is necessary to become an orthodontist assistant. In addition, depending on state regulations, orthodontic assistants may need to be licensed.
Orthodontic assistants are one of the most important members of your dental team. They provide a wide range of support and services to help you and your patients get the best possible experience at your practice.
Orthodontic assistants provide a wide range of support and services to help you and your patients get the best possible experience at your practice. They help to make sure that patients are comfortable and that everything is running smoothly during their visit, which can be especially important for children who are getting braces put on or taken off. Orthodontic assistants also take care of all the administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, collecting payments, filing insurance claims, and answering phones.
An orthodontic assistant has many duties in an orthodontist’s office or clinic. They perform patient care tasks such as cleaning teeth before or after treatment, applying fluoride varnish and fluoride rinses, giving injections for pain management or anesthesia, applying antibiotic ointments or topical steroids to reduce inflammation, applying rubber bands around brackets or wires during treatment sessions (if required), preparing materials needed for each stage of treatment (e.g., waxing strips), and more.
Orthodontic Assistant Salary
While dental assistants are similarly trained and licensed but do not work in specifically designated orthodontist offices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a data analysis organization run by the U.S. government, aggregates data regarding dental assistants, which includes orthodontic aides.
According to the BLS, the median pay for dental assistants in 2018 was $40,080. The highest paid dental assistants can make up to $56,930, while the lowest paid make $27,980. Orthodontic assistant salaries are covered by Glassdoor, which examines pay by occupation. According to Glassdoor, orthodontic assistants earn an average yearly salary of $37,727.
Highest Paying Cities for Orthodontist Assistant Jobs
|Barnstable Town, MA
|Hooper Bay, AK
|Potomac Heights, MD
Factors that affect salary
There are several factors that can affect the salary outlook for dental assistants. Holding additional certifications and working in an area where there’s a high need for dental assistants can mean that you may earn more per year while working for a smaller practice or a lower-need area can mean that you earn a little less than the national average.
- Geographic location: Where you work within the US will impact your salary. The top three highest-paying states within the US are Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Alaska. Among some of the lowest-paying states are West Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Cost of living is likely a factor in these salary swings by location, but there’s also a correlation between the concentration of dental assistants and salary. Areas with higher employment rates of dental assistants and a higher need for these professionals may pay slightly more, especially within densely populated metropolitan areas.
- Practice size and type: The size of your employer’s practice will be a factor on how much you make as a dental assistant. Larger practices with many dental assistants may pay less than smaller, private practices. Specialty practices and the Federal Executive Branch may also pay more per year than a traditional private dental office.
- Experience level: The longer you work as a dental assistant, the more you may earn. While this factor may not make as significant an impact on your annual salary as other factors like certification, many employers will compensate experienced dental assistants slightly more than those who are newer to the profession.
- Certifications: If you earn the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification, you can expect to earn about $2 more an hour than a dental assistant without their CDA. Holding a CDA certification will also serve you well if you plan on remaining in this profession long-term. A survey conducted by the DANB found that 61 percent of the surveyed dental assistants who had earned CDA certification reported receiving a raise in annual salary as opposed to 45 percent of non-certified dental assistants receiving a raise.
- Additional skills: If you have learned additional skills outside of the requirements of a typical dental assistant, or if you have earned specialized certifications, you may earn more per year. An example of additional skills could be anything from clerical office administration to radiology.
If you’re interested in becoming a certified orthodontic assistant, it’s absolutely doable! You’ll need to start with your high school diploma, but don’t stop there. In order to take the next step in pursuing this career, you should consider taking courses at an accredited dental college.
Not only will this help you gain the skills and knowledge necessary for certification as an orthodontic assistant, but it will also give you an edge over other candidates who don’t have the same level of education. This can mean a higher salary and more job opportunities for you!