How to Become a Dental Assistant in Colorado

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Colorado

The job of a dental assistant is challenging.

Not only do dental assistants help with some basic procedures, but they are the face of the practice.

They need to be organized and reliable, as well as private when it comes to patients’ personal information.

Dental Assistants in Colorado in Numbers

According to the statistics shared by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, 6,107 dental assistants were employed in Colorado in 2013.

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It is expected this number to grow by the year 2023 with numbers reaching 7,460, which is a 2 percent per year, or overall 22 percent.

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment issued data regarding employers of dental assistants.

The chart was for the year 2013 and stated that the Denver-Aurora area had the most job spots for assistants in the dental field, with 3,190 jobs.

Colorado Springs was second in place with 977 spots, followed by Boulder-Longmont and Grand Junction areas with 548 and 185 jobs, respectively.

Last in the chart were Pueblo with 161 jobs and Greeley with 126.

The site of the Colorado Dental Association (https://cdaonline.org/) is a great place to find employment opportunities.

Although the state doesn’t require particular registration and certification, a lot of the students prefer to further their education in the field.

Training and Programs in Colorado

The most wanted programs in dental assisting are those that have been accredited by the CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation).

These programs are not mandatory, but a lot of employers, as well as the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board), recognize programs accredited by the CODA.

The CODA is also recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, which makes its programs even more desired.

CODA currently accredits 5 programs in the state of Colorado.

However, there are a lot of other CODA-approved programs for dental assistants available online.

Programs usually last between 9 to 11 months.

After successful completion of such programs, students will receive a certificate.

There is also a multitude of degree programs for assistants in the dental field.

They result in practical experience in a dental office or clinic.

Topics covered in these programs usually include the following:

  • Human anatomy
  • Human physiology
  • Dental radiography
  • General, pediatric and periodontal clinical practice
  • Oral, orthodontic and maxillofacial clinical practice
  • Medical terminology

Specific Job Functions and Their Requirements

When it comes to legally use radiography equipment and x-ray, dental assistants in the state of Colorado must meet the following criteria:

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • To be eligible to operate machines of ionizing radiation and administration radiation to patients, students must complete safety, education and training programs.

To do so individuals must meet any of the requirements listed below:

  • At least 5 hours of practice and 3 hours of lectures, accredited by the State Board of Community Colleges and Occupational Education, the Private Occupational School Division or the Colorado Commission on Higher Education or
  • Successful completion of education or training by a licensed dental hygienist or dentists, that is approved by the Colorado Board of Examiners
  • Completion of DANB-accredited Radiation Health and Safety examination
  • Completion of the CDA (Certification Dental Assistant) examination accredited by the DANB

When it comes to BLS (Basic Life Support) training, there are some requirements by the Board.

To be eligible to administer anesthesia or sedation individuals must be certified in BLS.

Every dentist has to check if their dental assistant possesses such a certificate.

Don’t Do: for a Dental Assistant in Colorado

If you are a dental assistant in the state of Colorado, you are not allowed to do the following:

  • Administer local anesthesia
  • Diagnose patients
  • Perform dental hygiene scaling and periodontal probing
  • Any kind of procedures resulting in an alteration of the oral anatomy
  • Place local therapeutic agents
  • Root planning
  • Prescribe medication and plan treatment
  • Curettage of soft tissue

Education and Certification of Dental Assistants in Colorado

There are a few options for individuals, who have graduated from a dental assisting program or have practical experience in the field, to further their education.

Certifications offered by the DANB are as follows:

  • CDA (Certified Dental Assistant)
  • CPFDA (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant)
  • CRFDA (Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant)
  • COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant)

The most desirable certification is the CDA.

Since there is no mandatory registration or licensing of assistants in the dental field in Colorado, most employers prefer individuals who decided to obtain additional certification.

This is because these additional certifications show that students have more skills and/or experience in the field.

Also, a lot of dental assistants decide to obtain a national certificate, to distinguish themselves from the competition.

Every credential mentioned above includes at least two component examinations:

  • The COA includes Orthodontic Assisting and Infection Control.
  • The CDA cover of Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside.
  • The CRFDA includes Isolation, Anatomy, Physiology, Sealants, Temporaries, Impressions and Restorative Functions.
  • The CPFDA covers Topical Anesthetic and Fluoride, Coronal Polishing and Sealants.

Unfortunately, all certifications issued by the DANB must be renewed annually.

The Dale Foundation which is an official DANB affiliate offers information about requirements on its official website.

The foundation offers a variety of courses, such as:

  • Radiation Health and Safety
  • Infection Control
  • General Chairside
  • Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology
  • Coronal Polish
  • Expanded Functions
  • Orthodontic Assisting
  • Dental Office Management

After their completion, assistants are eligible for DANB examinations.

Other options for students in dental assisting are a bachelor or associate degree.

Individuals may choose to further their education in dental hygiene, office or medical administration.

How Much Does a Dental Assistant in Colorado Earn?

On average dental assistants in the state of Colorado around 35,000 USD per year.

Salaries reach their peak in cities such as Broomfield and Boulder, with numbers averaging at 37,000 USD per year.

The lowest salaries in the state as low as 33,000 per year in cities like Pueblo.

Annual Salary Range:
$33K
$35K
$37K
10%
50%
90%
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Arvada,CO$36,871
Aurora,CO$36,847
Boulder,CO$37,407
Broomfield,CO$37,030
Castle Rock,CO$36,332
Colorado Springs,CO$36,386
Denver,CO$36,871
Fort Collins,CO$35,359
Grand Junction,CO$35,550
Greeley,CO$35,554
Jefferson,CO$36,775
Loveland,CO$35,311
Pueblo,CO$33,797
Westminster,CO$36,871

USA Dental Assisting by State


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