Dental assisting can be a rewarding career. As part of a dental team, a dental assistant provides support to practicing dentists and their patients. When looking for educational paths to become a dental assistant, it is important to understand the nature of the learning process, the licensing or certifying process, and the role a dental assistant plays. As far as education, dental assistant online classes are usually options available only to already practicing dental assistants as a way to obtain continuing education credits. To be sure you are choosing the best dental assistant classes, whether online or in a traditional class setting, consider accreditation first and foremost.
Accreditation in education is merely a way of providing a form of checks and balances for a system that would otherwise have faults. As is the case in most allied health careers, a governing or accrediting organization typically works in conjunction with licensing or certifying boards. The overall process ensures that health care providers are able to distinguish the most useful, productive, and professional prospective hires from the ones that have been inadequately trained or prepared. While licensing or certification processes may be different from state to state or even country to country, the most important thing is to verify the validity of all dental assistant online classes, courses, or programs you might be considering before enrolling.
Dental assisting, like many allied health programs, requires a combination of lab and clinical practice hours. Therefore, it may not always be possible to find dental assistant online classes. There may be some institutions that offer a handful of required core classes in an online format, but lab and clinical hours will always be required and take place on site at a designated facility. If you happen across dental assistant online classes that boast the benefit of being entirely online, you should verify the program and its curriculum with the accrediting institution for your state or country.
While dental assisting online classes may not be possible or suitable for career training, there are definitely online options for continuing education classes. The easiest way to find approved dental assistant online classes for continuing education credit is to check with the appropriate certifying or licensing board for your area. Continuing education (CE) credits are usually required to maintain a certificate or license in good standing. Dental assisting online classes for CE include subject matter such as sanitization, radiology, and even smoking cessation. Be sure an approved class meets the requirements for maintaining your current license or certification.
One last consideration before pursuing dental assisting as a career is to understand the difference between a dental assistant and a dental hygienist. The very nature of clinical tasks is different for both titles and they are not the same job. Dental hygienists typically require more education and clinical practice than a dental assistant and are trained to perform duties without the supervision of a dentist.