The road to becoming an orthodontic assistant may seem a long one, especially when you’re just starting out. Understanding the steps to becoming an orthodontic assistant will lessen your anxiety and prepare you for what’s to come. In addition to thinking about what orthodontic assistant school you should enroll in and what orthodontic assistant jobs you’re interested in, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure you are equipped to make your dream of becoming an orthodontic assistant come true.
At Howard Healthcare Academy, we want to help you become an orthodontic assistant as quickly as possible. In this post we’ll look at the seven steps to becoming an orthodontic assistant and run through the important skills orthodontic assistant candidates should focus on building up along the way.
Review Your State Requirements
State requirements to work as an orthodontic assistant vary. The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) tracks state requirements, so you can research, by state, the criteria for becoming and orthodontic assistant.
Earn Your High School Diploma
Orthodontic assistant programs require students to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. If you haven’t already, earn your high school diploma or GED, and you can move one step closer to enrolling in an orthodontic assistant school.
Find the Right Orthodontic Assistant School
A specialized orthodontic assistant school is less common than dental associate schools, but there is no shortage of dental assisting and associate programs nationwide that offer orthodontics classes. What will be most important is that you research your options. Explore different educational programs to find the right one. Generally speaking, a program should feature a comprehensive curriculum, expert instructors, and convenient class schedules – all of which can help you pursue your goal of becoming an orthodontic assistant.
Sign Up for Orthodontics Classes
Complete the orthodontic assistant school, dental assisting school, or dental associate program enrollment process. If you have concerns or questions as you enroll, reach out for assistance. Remember, school or program administrators are happy to help you in any way possible. If you contact these administrators, you can get the help you need to streamline your enrollment in orthodontics classes.
Complete Your Orthodontics Classes
This is the bulk of the process! Study hard, take advantage of the resources your program offers its students, and get in as much practice time as possible. Orthodontics classes provide students with insights into bonding agents, tooth appliances, and the use of archwires. Meanwhile, students will learn about oral anatomy, infection control and related topics as well.
Find a Job
Before you can search for orthodontic assistant jobs, many states require you work for a period of time (usually around six months) as a dental assistant. Once you complete your educational program, start searching for your first job as a dental assistant. This will allow you to build work experience and, importantly, is a step on the way to obtaining your orthodontic assistant permit (OAP). It also enables you to earn money as you work toward achieving your goal of becoming an orthodontic assistant.
Earn a Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) Designation
DANB offers a Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) Designation that validates your expertise in the field. The COA assessment includes two components: an orthodontic assisting exam and an infection control test. The orthodontic assisting exam consists of 210 multiple-choice questions; comparatively, the infection control test includes 100 multiple-choice questions. The COA designation is not a requirement to work as an orthodontic assistant in most states. However, earning the designation may help you distinguish yourself from other candidates when you apply for orthodontic assistant jobs. It could also help increase your earning potential.
What Skills Do You Need to Thrive as an Orthodontic Assistant?
With these seven steps in mind, you can start the journey to becoming an orthodontic assistant feeling prepared. Along the way, you should be building skills in your specialty area that will help you succeed:
- Dexterity: Orthodontic assistants need to be good with their hands, as much of the job requires using specialized dental tools and instruments on difficult cases.
- Interpersonal Skills: Orthodontic assistants need to assist patients dealing with severe pain or stress, as well as follow instructions provided by a colleague or orthodontist.
- Organizational Skills: Orthodontic assistants are the cornerstone of process in their workplace, so it’s necessary to be organized, reliable, and on top of things.
In addition to building these general skills, you also should be learning these specialized tasks you will need to perform on a daily basis:
- Sterilize dental equipment
- Provide patients with oral health tips and recommendations
- Track patient dental treatments
- Schedule patient appointments
- Perform lab tasks
- Process patient X-rays
- Manage patient billing and payments
As you embark on your career as an orthodontic assistant, it often helps to sign up for a proven orthodontic assistant class. Howard Healthcare Academy offers an orthodontic assistant permit (OAP) course for people interested in orthodontic assistant jobs. Our OAP course is ideal for individuals and dental assistants who want to become orthodontic assistants, and its benefits include:
- Experienced Instructors: Our instructors are dental industry professionals who share their real-world insights with students and explain what it takes to perform the everyday duties of an orthodontic assistant.
- In-Depth Training: We provide hands-on and classroom lessons to help students prepare for different orthodontic assistant scenarios.
- Flexible Schedules: Our OAP class is offered at different days and times during the week, so you can enroll in a class that accommodates your schedule.
The Howard Healthcare Academy OAP course offers a terrific option for individuals who want to thrive as orthodontic assistants. To learn more about our OAP class, please call us today at (619) ACADEMY (619-222-3369) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.