Every dentist needs an assistant.
There are various tasks in the dental office that can be assigned to dental assistants.
Every state has its own rules regarding the duties of assistants in the dentists’ office.
Assistants in the dental field are respected and an important part of the everyday processes.
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Article Table of Contents
Dental Assistant in Illinois in Numbers
According to statistics, there were 14.270 dental assistants employed in the state in the year 2013.
Around 10.270 of them were in the metropolitan area of Chicago-Joliet-Naperville.
This makes them the second nationwide when it comes to dental assistants’ employment.
Types of Dental Assistants in Illinois
The sole body recognizing dental assistants in the state of Illinois and setting rules regarding their duties is the Illinois State Board of Dentistry.
According to them the job of an assistant in a dental office is important, as he or she can assist the dentist in charge and the dental hygienists.
However, the Board recognizes two types of dental assistants.
They are basic dental assistants and dental assistants that can perform expanded functions.
The job descriptions of these two roles are different in terms of the duties they perform.
Basic dental assistants can perform the following duties under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist:
- Oral health education
- Keeping records
- Greet patients
- Lead patients to the examining room
- Operate x-ray equipment
- Expose dental radiographs
Dental assistants that are qualified to perform expanded functions are allowed to perform the following duties:
- Application of sealants
- Monitoring of patients who are under minimal or deep sedation, or under nitrous oxide influence
- Placing amalgam restorations and finishing them
- Coronal polishing
How to Become a Dental Assistant in Illinois
Although the state of Illinois doesn’t require dental assistants to be licensed, a lot of dental assistants prefer to obtain some kind of a certificate.
This is because most employers seek candidates who have education, certification or at least some experience in the dental field.
This might be an entry-level position, but assistants who are qualified and trained to perform more functions are expected to be paid more.
To be allowed to perform certain procedures dental assistants must complete a course to obtain a certificate.
Dental assistants that are qualified to perform expanded functions must meet all of the criteria regarding each function, set up by the state.
To be eligible for that individuals must be at least 18 years old and do any of the following:
- Have 1,000 hours of practical experience in a clinic
- Complete a dental assisting program that is accredited by the CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation)
- Have a completed CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) certification approved by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board) and complete a course in the expanded function they would like to perform (or give proof that they have already completed such course)
Dental Assisting Programs in Illinois
Established back in 1975, the CODA is the sole organization in the USA that accredits education programs in the dental field.
Every individual who wants to be eligible for national certification must complete a course accredited by the CODA.
The Illinois State Board of Dentistry recognizes all of the CODA-approved programs.
In the state of Illinois, there are five such programs.
After successful completion of any of them, candidates can receive certificates in dental office aid, dental assisting, preclinical dental assisting and others.
Programs accredited by the CODA may include the following courses:
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
- Chairside assisting
- Dental emergencies and pathology
- Dental materials
- Dental office management
- Dental radiography
- Dental science
- Head and neck anatomy
- Infection control practices
- Oral and dental anatomy
- Oral embryology and histology
- Preventative dental health education
- Supervised dental assisting practice
National Certifications in the State of Illinois
One of the most desired certifications is the CDA.
It is approved by the DANB and individuals who decide to pursue it can become Dental Assistants Qualified in Expanded Functions.
According to statistics issued by the DANB, assistants who enroll in the CDA program and complete it successfully are likely to receive the following benefits:
- 401(k) pension plan
- Earn more per hour
- Medical insurance
- Paid vacations
- Paid holidays
- Paid sick leave
To obtain a CDA certification, individuals have to complete the CDA exam.
This exam consists of three examinations:
- GC (General Chairside Assisting Exam)
- ICE (Infection Control Exam)
- RHS (Radiation Health and Safety Exam)
Candidates have two options regarding the exam.
They can take all of the components together, or take them separately.
If they decide to take them separately, they must complete all three within five months.
Also, not taking the exams together will be more expensive, since applicants will have to pay stand-alone fees for each of them.
The CG one is 200 USD, the ICE – 175 USD, and the RHS – 175 USD.
There are three steps that every candidate must complete to obtain a certification.
The first step is to find out if he or she is eligible.
To do so individuals must meet any of the following criteria:
- Have a high school diploma, along with a valid CPR certification (from a DANB-approved provider) and have at least 3,500 hours of working experience.
- Be a graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the DANB and possess a valid CPR certification (from a DANB-approved provider)
- Have a previous CDA certification, or be a graduate from any of the following: DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or dental assisting program completed outside of Canada and the United States; and have a valid CPR certification (from a DANB-approved provider)
Step two is to complete an application and pay a fee of 375 USD.
Step three is to follow all of the instructions written on the Test Admission Notice sent by the DANB, to schedule a time, date and location.
The test is being held in Pearson VUE testing centers.
In the state of Illinois, such centers are located in Peoria, Springfield, and Schaumburg.
The American Dental Assistants Association is an association that aims to help and assist dental assistants in the areas of education, credentialing, professionalism and legislation.
Assistants can become members and join the Illinois State Chapter.
In doing so, individuals will gain some professional contacts, join a network within the dental community in the state, as well as enjoy many benefits.
There are two regional chapters of the Illinois Dental Assistants Association – Chicago Dental Assistants Association and Northwest Illinois Dental Assistants Society.
How Much Does a Dental Assistant in Illinois Earn?Annual Salary Range: Annual Salary by Location:
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