Dallas is a fast-growing city with over 1,250,000 people and it saw a five percent population growth from 2010 to 2013, according to the U.S. Census. The larger Dallas County area is the ninth most-populous county in the nation, and home to over 2,480,000 people. Each of those individuals requires dental care, whether it's a routine hygiene and cleaning, or more invasive procedures for a healthy mouth. In order to treat millions of people, dental offices will be interested in hiring graduates from dental assistant schools in Dallas.
Dental assistant schools in Dallas, Texas
Students at dental assistant schools learn a great deal about dentistry, office administration and procedures. Some common courses in the curriculum include:
- Anatomy and pathology of the mouth
- Fundamentals of dentistry
- Dental pharmacology
- Dental procedures
- The use and care of dental equipment
- Dental materials
- Chairside assisting
- Prevention and nutrition
The office management and administration component of the dental assisting program includes courses in computer basics, math fundamentals, best practices in customer service, and office administration. CPR and first aid courses are typically required for all dental assisting programs.
In the state of Texas, dental assistants might need to be certified to perform higher-level duties, such as administration of nitrous oxide, sealing of pits and fissures, and coronal polishing. Therefore, some programs might offer courses that focus specifically on these procedures.
Though someone could begin work as a dental assistant without formal training, many employers prefer those who have some higher education. Dental assistant schools in Dallas might offer the certificate program, which typically lasts one year, or the associate degree, which is less common. Those who intend to earn higher certifications or advance in their work should pursue the associate degree, or even the bachelor's degree in a field closely related to dentistry.
Licensure and certification for dental assistants in Texas
Texas has specific rules regarding work as a dental assistant. There are three levels of certification: dental assistant, registered dental assistant, and dental assistant qualified to perform expanded functions.
- General dental assistants perform basic supportive dental procedures under close supervision. No particular training is necessary to earn this title. General dental assistants cannot perform X-rays unless it is for training purposes.
- Registered dental assistants must meet several requirements, including a course in basic life support, and mandatory training as specified by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. They also must earn the Certified Dental Assistant certification, complete the Texas Jurisprudence Assessment, and apply for registration.
- Expanded functions include pit and fissure sealants, coronal polishing, and administration of nitrous oxide. Each certificate has specified requirements that must be met before the dental assistant can perform these duties, including at least two years of experience and passing the proper examinations.
In 2013, the Commission on Dental Accreditation approved over 250 dental education programs, including seven in the state of Texas. Several other programs are approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, including three that can be taken entirely online. Students at dental assistant schools in Dallas, TX can often take courses online and complete the practical hands-on training during the course of their work at a dental office in the area.
Dental assistant careers in Dallas
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistants in the Dallas-Plane-Irving metropolitan area made a mean annual wage of $34,260 in 2013. By contrast, the mean annual wage nationwide was just slightly higher, at $35,640. Though most dental assistants work in the offices of dentists or physicians, the highest paying industries for the occupation include:
- Specialty hospitals (except substance abuse and psychiatric)
- Federal executive branch
- State government
- Facilities support services
- Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health and substance abuse facilities
Dallas and the surrounding area offer great opportunities for graduates of dental assistant programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects growth of 25 percent for dental assistants nationwide from 2012 to 2022. This is much faster than the average job growth. Projections Central reports an expected dental assistant job growth of 21.4 percent in Texas during that same time period. This growth can be attributed to growing dental practices, expanded healthcare coverage that encourages more people to go to the dentist, an aging population and a deeper understanding of how dental maintenance affects overall health.
Allied Programs, Texas, Commission on Dental Accreditation, http://www.ada.org/en/coda/find-a-program/search-dental-programs/allied-programs
Dallas (city), Texas, Quick Facts, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4819000.html
Dallas County, Texas, Quick Facts, U.S. Census Bureau, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/48113.html
Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes319091.htm
Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm
Dental Assistants, Long Term Occupational Projections in Texas, Projections Central, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Dental Board-Approved Dental Assistant Course Providers, Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, http://www.tsbde.state.tx.us/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32&Itemid=26#Course%20Providers
Texas State Requirements, Dental Assisting National Board, Inc., http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Texas.aspx