Alabama is a state where the job of a dental assistant is not unusual.
the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama set up the Alabama Dental Practice Act which aims to put in place certain standards regarding dental assisting.
In this state, people who want to succeed in his field, but have no education or training in it, are allowed to perform some of the basic procedures.
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However, this is only to be done under the supervision dentist, that has been licensed.
Thanks to CODA (Commission on Dental Assisting), which is a U.S. based agency that accredits education in the dental field, individuals can enroll in a program to obtain a certain degree.
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What is a Dental Assistant?
Every dental practice needs a dental assistant.
Imagine the practice as a house.
The dental assistant is the foundation of this house – it holds it in place and together.
A dental assistant should always be kind and nice and follow precisely the instructions of the dentist in charge. He/she should be able to keep confidential information about every patient or the practice.
Also, if uncertain about any kind of issue, he/she should ask questions, especially regarding patients’ care.
A dental assistant has to be fast-learner, well organized and to be able to navigate in a fast-paced environment.
Since every state has different regulations the duties and responsibilities of a dental assistant may vary depending on the state.
From taking care of patients, through maintaining the job site, to ordering supplies, dental assistants have various tasks.
How to Become a Dental Assistant?
There are a few programs in the state of Alabama offering courses, approved by the CODA.
If the course is completed successfully the participant will receive a certificate.
Each course has a duration of between 9 and 11 months.
During the programs students will study different aspects and areas of the dental field, which may include, but are not limited to the following:
- Dental terminology and anatomy
- Oral pathology
- Dental law and ethics
- Patient psychology
After the successful completion of a course, the participant will be prepared to work in a dental practice at an entry-level position.
Every individual can take a DANB exam to obtain a certificate.
Overall, every course has a practical part and students get to gain some experience in the field.
After these courses, a dental assistant may work as such or decide to take on a slightly different path.
Students can proceed further with their education to become dental laboratory technicians and be able to write prescriptions to patients and gain a certificate accredited by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology.
Another step that one can take is towards a degree in dental hygiene.
Such a degree will allow individuals to work in the dentist’s office and perform duties like cleaning teeth.
CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) credential is voluntary but desired.
To be eligible to take the CDA exam one must have completed one of the courses approved by CODA.
High school graduates can also take the exam, if they have at least 3,500 hours of experience, again approved by the CODA.
The exam itself has three main components. They are:
- Infection Control (ICE)
- General Chairside Assisting (GC)
- Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)
All of the requirements for the exams can be found on the official site of DANB
The exam can be taken at 30 facilities, known as Pearson VUE test centers, throughout Alabama.
Certificates issued by the DANB are valid for a year.
DANB certificate holders can continue their education in a few other programs offered by it, such as the DANB Professional Development Examination Program, known as PDEP.
E-courses are also available at students’ disposal. Such are:
- HR Fundamentals for the Dental Office
- Behavioral Guidance and Management for the Pediatric Dental Patient
- Financial Reporting for the Dental Office, etc.
Dental Assistant Salaries in AlabamaAnnual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
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Dos and Don’ts for a Dental Assistant
If you are a dental assistant in Alabama or you want to become one, you should get familiar with what you can do as such and what you should not do.
As a dental assistant in the state of Alabama, you are eligible to operate dental x-ray equipment, as well as execute radiographic procedures.
Also, there are no requirements when it comes to radiography.
Unfortunately, the list of what not to do is essentially longer, but useful.
As an assistant in a dental practice in Alabama, you don’t have the right to:
- Remove accretions, extrinsic stains, and calcareous deposits
- Place fissure and pit sealants
- Apply crowns made of stainless steel
- Remove wire sutures
- Perform: gingival curettage, pulp capping, periodontal probing, root planing
- Place resorbable chlorhexidine chips, subgingival or topical antimicrobial agents
- Construct/repair prosthetic dentures, bridges, appliances
- Fill cavities
- Read x-rays
- Bleach teeth
According to the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners, these are a few of the things you can’t do as a dental assistant in the state of Alabama.
The rest, along with more useful information, can be found on their official website – https://www.dentalboard.org/.
Job as a Dental Assistant in Alabama
Thanks to the Alabama Dental Association, an organization found in 1869 and features more than 1,800 dentists, it is more than easy to see job vacancies.
Check the Alabama Dental Association‘s official website to view the available listings and see what you will need to apply for each position.
Jobs can be found in different clinics and dental practices in cities throughout the state, such as Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham, and many more.