With the demands of everyday life, it can be quite challenging to pursue a qualification at a tertiary institution.
Simply finding the time to drive to campus and attend lectures presents its own challenges.
However, with the introduction of technology, the education system has found a way to bridge the gap by allowing students to attend lectures in the comfort of their homes, at a time that suits them.
You can now attend an online school and get a certificate or associate degree fully online.
- What Courses Are in an Online Dental Assisting Training Program?
- Can You Earn a Dental Assisting Certification Completely Online
- How Long Does it Take to Earn a Dental Assistant Certification Online?
- How Much Does an Online Dental Assistant Certification Cost?
- Benefits of Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
- Drawbacks of Online Dental Assistance Training Programs
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Dental Assistant Training Programs – Summary Table
- Types of Dental Assistant Certifications
- 4 Self-Study Tips for Dental Assistant Online Students
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Courses Are in an Online Dental Assisting Training Program?
The course material contained in each program will depend on the school, the program, and the length of study.
Some schools may only offer traditional course materials, while other schools may offer a blend of traditional and modern topics.
The following course material is included in the majority of programs:
- Dental Methodology and Instruments
- Management and Administration
- Scheduling Appointments
- Record Keeping
- Taking X-Rays
- Providing Patient Care
More advanced programs may have different course materials, including:
- Dental Practice Management
- Oral Anatomy & Pathology
- Dental Assisting: Practical
- Dental Assisting: Theory
- Academic Literacy and Communication Studies
- Preventative Dentistry and Ethics
- Dental Medications and Materials
Can You Earn a Dental Assisting Certification Completely Online
Depending on the school and type, of course, most dental assisting programs run between nine months and two years.
These programs are usually offered through a vocational school or community college.
Ideally, students should opt for a course that is accredited by The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association (ADA), or both.
Students may elect to do a certificate program or associate degree.
The courses may be completed entirely online.
Alternatively, the course may be offered in a classroom setting or a blend of online and in-class.
As part of the core curriculum, students are required to complete lab work as well as an externship/internship.
Essentially, while the theory of the course may be completed online, the practical side of the program will need to be completed on-site.
In addition, in order to graduate from the course, students are required to sit for a national examination which is conducted at pre-determined centers and cannot be completed online.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Dental Assistant Certification Online?
The duration of the online program is similar to that of the full-time lectures.
Some programs allow students a minimum of six months to complete the course and a maximum of ten to twelve months, while others require the student to complete the course within the four-semester period.
How Much Does an Online Dental Assistant Certification Cost?
Not all states require that students attend an accredited dental assistant program.
Some states may allow candidates to sit for the national examination after a period of on-the-job training.
The price per course will depend on the length of the course and the institution offering the course.
Some courses may be free.
The course fee is calculated per credit hour.
The institution may charge in-state, out-of-state, or a flat fee for the course.
Penn Foster University, for example, offers the course at a reduced fee of $799.
Tuition for this course can range anywhere from just under $1,000 up to $6,000 per program.
Benefits of Online Dental Assistant Training Programs
You may be apprehensive about learning online as opposed to attending a face-to-face lecture, even if you are tech-savvy, but studying online does hold several benefits for students.
Here are three benefits to studying dental assistance online.
Working a full-time job and attending face-to-face lectures presents a host of challenges.
Finding and/or making time to attend lectures can be a challenge.
Most students often feel like attending in-person lectures eats away at their personal time.
Online classes, on the other hand, offer students a lot more flexibility.
Course material is offered through video tutorials/streaming videos, audio clips, phone apps, and other online tools.
For example, instead of watching television at night, students may listen to audio/video files.
Similarly, while driving to and from work, or while on a lunch break, students are able to access their training program and complete their online course on their own time.
Course materials can easily be paused until the student finds more time to continue with the program and allow the student, within limits, to complete the course on their own time.
2. More cost-effective
A major benefit to studying online is the fact that you will pay lower tuition for the course.
Online tuition often includes the tuition fee, notes and book supplies, an application fee, and in certain cases a few other fees.
One of the reasons that online classes are less expensive is that the school has fewer expenses to incur when offering this type of program.
In addition, the student will not have to spend money on commuting to and from the college, which adds more savings directly into the pocket of the student.
Keep in mind, that while some online dental assistance programs are more cost-efficient, you essentially get what you pay for.
Always ensure that the material covered in the online course is up-to-date and relevant.
3. Online support and community
Most programs offer eLearning customer support as well as educators to assist students with queries they may have during the course of completing their program.
Access to student support and educators will depend on the institution.
Some offer support from 8 am to 5 pm, some offer after-hour support, and some offer 24-hour support.
The level of support will depend on the school and the location of the students.
In addition, many online programs offer online forums where students can gain additional information about the subject.
For example, online forums allow different students to view questions posed by other students as well as the answers offered by the online educators.
The forum allows students with the same goals and objectives to not only share questions and answers related to the topic but also suggestions, doubts, and ideas while allowing the students to effectively interact with each other.
Drawbacks of Online Dental Assistance Training Programs
Opting to study online may not always be the best choice.
There may be several drawbacks to studying a particular course online as opposed to attending in-person lectures.
Here are three drawbacks to studying a dental assistance program online.
1. You need hands-on experience
One of the primary factors that prepare you to hit the ground running is the hands-on experience gained through face-to-face lectures that you simply will not get with an online program.
Many programs that require in-person attendance also require that the student complete a clinical internship with a local dental practice.
In addition, unlike most traditional courses, online courses do not offer assistance to students in securing an internship/externship.
Many traditional classroom settings include an on-site and affiliated dental program where students are able to complete a practicum which will help to prepare them for the fast-paced work environment.
Hands-on experience means that students will gain practical experience in important job functions such as sterilizing a treatment room, learning how to create a temporary crown, or gain experience of assisting dental staff with advanced procedures such as denture placements or assisting with performing root canals.
2. Gap in the learning program
One of the key components to measuring the success of a training program is to assess how ready a student is to perform his/her job functions.
Every state in the US has different requirements for dental assistants.
The most important step a student can take to prepare is to make sure that the training program meets all of the requirements for the state in which the student wishes to become a dental assistant.
In addition, some states require that students sit for the national exam upon completion of the program, or complete a set number of working hours before they are able to write the exam.
Not all online programs meet the requirements in order to write the exam and thus obtain qualifications.
3. Online learning isn’t for everyone
E-learning isn’t for every person.
Some students learn through theory, some students learn through hands-on training, and other students may learn better by asking questions to help them understand the subject.
Students may feel frustrated when they are unable to immediately access an educator or get assistance from online customer support.
Especially on a course where the student will benefit more from gaining hands-on experience.
Some courses are designed to be instructed in an online format and this format works well for these types of courses.
For example, writing courses or learning a new language. Other courses are better suited to being taught in person.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Dental Assistant Training Programs – Summary Table
|Benefits of Online Dental Assistant Training Programs||Drawbacks of Online Dental Assistance Training Programs|
|1. Flexibility||1. You need hands-on experience|
|2. More cost-effective||2. Gap in the learning program|
|3. Online support and community||3. Online learning isn't for everyone|
Types of Dental Assistant Certifications
According to The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which is the nationally recognized certification organization for dental assistants, there are five different types of certificates under this category:
- National Entry Level Dental Assistant
- Certified Dental Assistant
- Certified Orthodontic Assistant
- Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant
- Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant
4 Self-Study Tips for Dental Assistant Online Students
Getting started with your online course should not be that challenging.
Simply follow these four self-study tips and you should be able to complete your course efficiently and effectively.
1. Learning to use technology
Start by understanding the platform that you will be using, whether that is Zoom, Google Classroom, Skype, or any other platform.
Ensure you are using the right browser and educate yourself on online classroom etiquette.
Most importantly, do not hesitate to ask your instructor for help.
2. Make sure you have access
It is important to make sure that you have the right equipment to gain access to the classroom.
This includes a desktop or laptop.
A phone screen may not be ideal for this type of instruction.
In addition, ensure that your internet is up and running or that you are able to gain access to the internet in order to attend classes.
And, finally, try to access the classroom before the time so that you do not run into any problems if the lectures are live.
The last thing you want is to struggle to get into the class and be late for your first lecture.
3. Record lectures
In the event that your lectures are live, be sure to record them.
This will allow you to go over the material again in case you miss anything.
Keep in mind, that with a topic like this, you will potentially be dealing with some complicated courseware.
You may need to review certain chapters.
It is best to record your lectures and use them as references when completing the assignments.
4. Take notes
Taking notes will help you to organize the material and remember what to focus on when it is time to write the exam.
In addition, as you will be recording the video, you will be able to access it again, at a later stage, to review it in case you missed anything.
This will also help you to formulate any questions regarding the course material.
Students who plan to study a dental assistance program online should first find out what the state requirements are and then pursue a program that meets those requirements.
In addition, students should carefully consider if an online course is the best possible route for them by assessing their ability for online study.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the average salary of a dental assistant?
According to reports, the average salary that a dental assistant may expect to earn is $42,310.
Wages for this position can fluctuate and range between $34,470 to $49,810 depending on the position, state, and facility where the candidate is employed.
What skills do you need to be a dental assistant?
The following skills will make a good dental assistant:
- Attention to detail
- Listening skills
- Communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
Is dental assistance a difficult course?
Yes, many students have stated that this is a challenging course to master.
How many hours a week does a dental assistant work?
Dental assistants work an average of 35 – 40 hours a week.
This may include work in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Is being a dental assistant a stressful job?
There are a variety of takes to complete in a day, but this position is not very stressful.