How to Become a Dental Assistant in Montana

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Montana

Every dental practice needs dental assistants.

They are a very important part of the everyday tasks administered in the dentists’ office.

However, their responsibilities are different depending on the state they work in.

That is why everyone who wants to work as a dental assistant has to see the regulation regarding the profession in the relevant state.

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For instance, dental assistants in Montana are called dental auxiliaries.

According to the Dental Practice Act, dental auxiliaries are allowed to perform basic and supportive duties under the licensed dentists’ supervision.

However, if a dental auxiliary wants to operate dental x-ray equipment, or administer dental radiographic procedures, he or she needs to meet specific requirements.

How to Become a Dental Auxiliary in Montana

To become a dental auxiliary in the state of Montana an individual has three options.

First, individuals have the option to graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the CODA (Commission on Dental Accreditation).

Since 2014, there are two programs in the state of Montana in Pablo and Great Falls.

Second, candidates have to receive training and instruction in dental assisting from a licensed in Montana dentist.

Third, they may receive training and instruction in a continuing education course that is approved by the Board.

Additional Requirements for Dental Auxiliaries in Montana

Dental auxiliaries that wish to operate dental radiographic equipment have to meet specific requirements.

To become capable of operating dental radiographic equipment, individuals have to meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be a graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the CODA
  • Have a dental radiography certificate from another state
  • Have a dental radiography certificate from the US military
  • Complete the RHS (Radiation Health and Safety) exam administered by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board)

When it comes to the Radiation Health and Safety exam, individuals have to complete an application.

Also, they need to pay a fee of 175 USD (money order or check to the DANB).

After that, candidates have to call and schedule the exam.

The exam is administered at a Pearson VUE center.

These centers in the state of Montana are located in the cities of Billings, Helena, and Missoula.

Students need to prepare for the exam and it is helpful to know the areas the exam covers:

  • Conventional film processing
  • Exposure and evaluation
  • Mounting and labeling
  • Radiation safety-operator/staff
  • Radiation safety-patient

Certification Options for Dental Assistants in Montana

It is not mandatory for dental assistants in Montana to obtain certifications.

However, a lot of individuals prefer to pursue one because employers seek candidates with better qualifications.

Also, they tend to pay more for more qualified employees.

The most desired certification is the CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) offered by the DANB.

Since, the Radiation Health and Safety exam is part of the CDA examination, a lot of dental assistants prefer to take the whole examination.

Every Certified Dental Assistant must have a valid CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) certification that is issued by an approved by the DANB provider.

Also, dental auxiliaries must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Be a graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the CODA (such programs can be found in Pablo and Great Falls)
  • Be a high school or GED graduate and have at least 3,500 hours of approved working experience
  • Have a former CDA, or be a graduate from a DDS or DMD preparation program accredited by the CODA, or be a graduate from a dental degree offered in another country

The CDA exam itself consists of three sub-exams:

  • RHS (Radiation Health and Safety)
  • GC (General Chairside)
  • ICE (Infection Control)

The RHS exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

The GC – 100 multiple-choice questions, and the ICE – 100 multiple-choice questions, as well.

The examination is administered in Pearson VUE centers, located in Billings, Helena and Missoula.

Maintenance of Certifications in Montana

Dental assistants in Montana who have a CDA certification are required by the DANB to renew it every two years.

To do that they must have at least 12 CDEs (Continuing Dental Education) credits.

To count for a renewal, CDEs must be related to the profession of dental assisting.

Listed below are the allowed types and amounts of CDEs (according to the DANB):

  • DANB exam/related to dental assisting exams – 12 CDEs at maximum (every two years)
  • Clinical Practice – 12 CDEs at maximum (every two years)
  • Dental Office Management – 3 CDEs at maximum (every two years)
  • Scholarly activity/Volunteer service – 3 CDEs at maximum (every two years)

CDEs can be obtained online, as well.

To count for credits, the CDE programs must have a duration of 45 minutes at a minimum.

Dental assistant jobs can be found across the state of Montana, but mainly in the largest cities, such as Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, Havre, Great Falls, Libby, Missoula, Cut Bank, Kalispell.

Don’ts for Dental Assistants in Montana

Although, no specific certification or education is required for basic dental assistants or dental auxiliaries, there are certain procedures they are not allowed to perform.

Listed below are functions prohibited for dental assistants:

  • Diagnose patients
  • Plan treatment of patients
  • Prescribe drugs
  • Take final impressions
  • Functions regarding permanent restorations, such as place, carve and condense
  • Cement or bond appliances or orthodontic brackets
  • Cement or bond fixed prosthesis, such as veneers
  • Cut soft or hard tissue, as well as teeth extractions
  • Periodontal probes
  • Dispense or administer drugs
  • Air polishing
  • Place therapeutic materials or secular medicinal
  • Prophylaxis

How Much Does a Dental Assistant in Montana?

According to a statistic, issued on the 28th of September, 2018, dental assistants in Montana earn around 33,440 USD on average.

The salary range in the state is between 28,790 and 35,868 USD.

Of course, the salary range depends on a few factors, such as education, specific skills, certification, special training, and location.

Salaries in bigger cities are usually higher.

According to research, more and more jobs are offered each year, showing an increase in the need for dental assistants in the state.

The Montana Department of Labor predicts an increase of 29.9 % by the year 2020.

This will mean at least 59 new job openings per year.

Annual Salary Range:
$30K
$33K
$35K
10%
50%
90%
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Billings, MT$35,051
Great Falls, MT$31,732
Missoula, MT$30,250
Bozeman, MT$30,250
Helena, MT$30,799
Kalispell, MT$32,482
Belgrade, MT$30,250
Havre, MT$31,183
Miles City, MT$34,502

USA Dental Assisting by State


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