How to Become a Dental Assistant in Florida

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Florida

Dental assistants in the USA are becoming more and more needed.

Every year there are more job openings in the dental field for them.

Their job is interesting with duties they can administer by themselves, and others that have to be overseen by a licensed dentist.

Every state has a different approach when it comes to dental assistants and their responsibilities, education, and certification.

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Dental Assistants in Florida in Numbers

According to statistics shared by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, there were 16,530 dental assistants in the state in the year 2013.

Florida landed in fourth place nationwide regarding dental assistants’ employment in the same year.

The Florida Board of Dentistry is the one who ensures whether dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dentists in the state meet all of the needed requirements.

In the state of Florida, assistants can perform certain tasks called expanded functions.

These, so-called remedial tasks, are outlined in the Administrative Code of Florida.

According to them, dental assistants in the state have to receive formal training in a program approved by the Board of Dentistry.

Also, dental radiographers have to apply for a certificate in dental radiography to the Department of Health.

These certifications require additional training.

How to Become a Dental Assistant in Florida

Dental assistants in the state of Florida who desire to perform expanded functions or to have radiography privileges are obliged to complete certain training.

These training programs have to be approved either by the Florida Board of Dentistry or by the CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation).

The CODA is a commission approved by both the U.S. Department of Education and the American Dental Association.

It is also the only approved agency that accredits professional education programs in the dental field.

Every dental assistant who has graduated from a program accredited by the CODA has the right to perform expanded and radiography duties.

Individuals who want to succeed in the dental field have a variety of options to choose from.

Currently, the CODA accredits 25 programs in the state of Florida.

Their programs usually last less than a year, although some associate degree programs have a duration of two years.

All of the programs end with a certification.

They are offered by community and junior colleges, as well as dental, technical and vocational schools.

They are very convenient since students can do them remotely as online programs.

Programs accredited by the CODA include some clinical experience.

These programs teach all of the skills needed to work as an entry-level assistant in a dental practice.

Usually, the courses include the following:

  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Dental anatomy
  • Dental materials
  • Allied dental theory
  • Radiology
  • Physiology and anatomy
  • Dental pharmacology and psychology
  • Preventative dentistry

However, students who don’t want to enroll in the CODA-accredited programs, and want to perform expanded functions and dental radiography duties, must take a course approved by the Florida Board of Dentistry.

Certification Options for Dental Assistants in Florida

Individuals who desire to perform expanded and radiography duties must meet all of the requirements to receive a certification.

These certifications are for life and do not have to be renewed.

To become a dental assistant who is allowed to perform dental radiography procedures, you have to graduate from a CODA-approved program or school or have a certification as a dental radiographer.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) issues certifications.

To receive one individual have to:

  • Have at least three months of training under the supervision of a dentist that has been licensed in Florida
  • Complete a course in radiography approved by the Florida Board and do that within 12 months of the end of the on-site job training
  • Apply for a certification issued by the FDOH

Although dental assistants in the state are allowed to do basic supportive procedures under the direct supervision of the dentist who has been licensed, they need training to be allowed to perform expanded duties.

They must graduate from a program accredited by the CODA, or complete a Florida-approved training program for expanded duties.

Don’ts of a Dental Assistant in Florida

In the state of Florida, dental assistants are not allowed to perform certain duties, even if they have a certification in expanded function or dental radiography.

There are the following:

  • Root planning
  • Gingival curettage
  • Taking impressions
  • Initial access preparation

Other Certification Options for Dental Assistants in Florida

Since 2009, Florida does not recognize certification received by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board) in the fields of dental radiography and expanded duties.

However, national certifications are a big plus for dental assistants who want to further their careers and work in specialty practices like endodontics, orthodontics, and periodontics.

The DANB offers a few certification options:

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

All of them have from 2 to 4 component exams.

They must be passed to receive a certification.

It is not a must to take these examinations at the same time.

They are valid for a year and dental assistants are required to complete a minimum of 30 continuing credits to renew their certification.

Professional Associations in the State of Florida

When it comes to professional associations for dental assistants in the Sunshine State, it is always a good idea to have an active membership in such.

This is a great opportunity for individuals to get to know the professional community and become a vital part of it.

Also, they will receive the option to find sources about employment, education and interesting opportunities in the dental field.

The FDAA (Florida Dental Assistants Association) includes the following local organizations in Florida:

  • Palm Beach Dental Assistants Society
  • Broward County Dental Assistants Society
  • Sara-Mana Dental Assistants Society
  • Polk County Dental Assistants Society
  • Northwest Florida Dental Assistants Society

How Much Does a Dental Assistant in Florida Earn?

On average dental assistants in the state of Florida earn between 32,000 and 36,000 USD per year.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Boca Raton,FL$36,164
Cape Coral,FL$34,256
Daytona Beach,FL$33,003
Fort Lauderdale,FL$35,809
Fort Myers,FL$34,256
Palm Bay,FL$32,996
Pembroke Pines,FL$35,176
Pompano Beach,FL$35,809
Port Saint Lucie,FL$34,361
Saint Petersburg,FL$34,709
Spring Hill,FL$34,605
West Palm Beach,FL$35,867

USA Dental Assisting by State

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