CAREER IN DENTAL ASSISTING
A dental assistant is an integral member of a multidisciplinary health care team. The dental assistant may assist a dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist, or may work independently to carry out traditional chairside/clinical duties and business procedures. The dental assistant may work in a private dental office, a community health program, a business setting or an educational institution. A dental assistant is taught in five main areas: clinical assisting, patient education, intra-oral preventative services, intra-oral restorative services and business administration. Registration is mandatory with the Saskatchewan Dental Assistants' Association.
The dental assistant provides only those services for which they have been trained or assessed through a formal education program and which are within the scope of practice as designated by the regulatory body. The dental assistant is ethically bound to apply the principles of accepted current dental practice in the delivery of dental health services.
As a member of the dental health team, we assist in four-handed dentistry, take x-rays, take impressions, sterilize and provide preventive services. We also work as receptionists and office managers.
No, the opportunities are as diverse as the individuals involved! Post graduate courses qualify us to practice in other specialty areas such as orthodontics and restorative procedures.
Dental assisting could be a career for you if you enjoy working closely with people. Good hand-eye coordination is necessary. Good grooming and good health are essential for all health professionals.This health care practitioner must possess excellent communication skills as well as the ability to work effectively in a team environment. The profession requires that dental assistants have a genuine interest in people, posessing the ability to make patients as comfortable as possible in the dental chair.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic in Regina and USASK in Saskatoon offer dental assisting programs in Saskatchewan. These programs are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. Generally, attendance at a CDAC accredited program provides the most effective labour mobility. To obtain more information on the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Dental Assistant Program, click here. To obtain more information on the USASK Dental Assistant Program, click here. Upon graduation students are eligible to take the NDAEB written examination. When considering other dental assistant courses check the CDAC website to confirm their accreditation; www.cda-adc.ca/cdacweb/
Dental Assisting is a one year program. An applicant must hold a Grade 12 with a minimum overall average of 65% in English Language Arts A30, English Language Arts B30, Biology 30, and the highest grade in one of the required mathematics*. There is also an English Language requirement.
Standard First Aid and CPR HeartSaver "C" AED or equivalent are required prior to entry into the Dental Assisting program and must be current to the year of the program.
*Foundations of Math 20 or Foundations of Math 30 or Pre-Calculus.
Upon completion of the program, graduates write the National Dental Assisting Examining Board examination. This status is required for licensure in all Canadian provinces. Participation in professional development courses is ongoing and necessary to maintain licensure.
A Level II Distance Delivery dental assisting program is available Vancouver Community College ( link). The VCC distance program is presented on-line through a learning platform called MOODLE. The student requirements are the same as the on-site program with the additional requirement of working or volunteering in a dental office during their schooling for a minimum of 14 hours per week. The student attends on-site for three clinical sessions throughout their program. Upon graduation students are eligible to take the NDAEB written examination.
Dental Assisting is a one year program. The minimum entrance requirements are Grade XII with a minimum overall average of 65%. Applicants are required to have English Language Arts A30, English Language Arts B30, Biology 30, and the highest grade in one of the required mathematics (Foundations of Math 20 or Foundations of Math 30 or Pre-Calculus). Two sciences are recommended for career mobility. Successful applicants too a dental assisting program will have medical fitness, dental fitness and hold Standard First Aid and CPR Level C prior to admission.
The Dental Assistant diploma program consists of chairside and intra-oral training, or an individual employed in a dental office may enrol in a chairside assisting correspondence course followed by an intra-oral program in a college. Training programs may vary but are generally the equivalent of 10 months in duration. The training institution must be recognized by the Saskatchewan Dental Assistants' Association. Training programs may choose to be 'accredited' by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.
In addition to regular course examinations given as part of the required educational program, all applicants must satisfactorily complete the National Dental Assisting Board Examination, effective 1998. This examination is taken after all educational requirements have been met and is required for licensure in all other the Canadian provinces. Professional development is ongoing and necessary for re-licensure.
Applicants who have not graduated from a CDAC accredited educational program must also satisfactorily complete a "Clinical Practice Evaluation".
What are the employment opportunities?
Our future is bright; there are positions across Canada in rural and urban centers. Dental Assistants work in general dentistry practices, specialty offices and in the Student Clinic at the College of Dentistry, University of Saskatchewan. With further education, several dental assistants have become instructors in a recognized dental assisting training program.
All applicants who want to be licensed in Saskatchewan should provide the following documentation:
- Academic transcript
- NDAEB certificate (National Dental Assisting Examining Board) & and CPE if your program was not accredited by CDAC
- Proof of good standing with other regulatory body (as applicable)
- Proof of having graduated, taken retraining or having held a licence to practice dental assisting within the last three years.
In order to practice dental assisting in Saskatchewan, licensure is essential. However, beyond our regulatory responsibility, the SDAA is able to provide the following benefits:
- A modern process of registration, licensure, skill listing and continuing education records.
- A modern approach to training assessment which recognizes prior learning.
- Availability of a practice and non-practice licence.
- Professional Liability insurance provided for every member holding a practice licence.
- Email and Home delivery of Accent on Assisting.
- Distribution of the annual Proposed Salary Guide to SDAA members and dentists in the province.
- Access to the SDAA Job Board.
- Organization and notice of professional development courses.
- A voice in policy decisions and in the future direction of dental assisting. i.e. professional development, legislation.
- Provision of pertinent information and resources to all dental assistants through liaison with local associations and the SDAA Council and office staff.
- Link to SDHA, SDTA, College of Dental Surgeons, government and affiliates.
- Link to the provincial education program through representation on their advisory board and provincial education program representation on council.
- Online 'Compensation and Benefit Survey' conducted every second year relative to wages, working conditions and other identified needs.