Oral Surgery Assistant Certification and Certificate Program Info
An oral surgery assistant, also referred to as a dental surgery assistant or an oral surgical technician, is responsible for performing laboratory duties and assisting oral surgeons. Some universities offer an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate program that can provide regular dental assistants with the skills necessary to earn a position in the field of oral surgery.
Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate
There are no certificate programs specifically designed for aspiring oral surgical assistants or technicians. However, students interested in the field can enroll in an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant Certificate program at a 4-year university or vocational college. Such programs are typically made available to professional dental assistants who have already completed at least six months of full-time chairside assistance duty in a dentist's office. Interested students should either be certified dental assistants or licensed dental hygienists.
Students enrolled in an expanded duty certificate program for dental assistants spend classroom and laboratory time learning how to perform advanced chairside duties for dentists and oral surgeons. These include removing sutures from oral surgery procedures, placing post-surgery packs, monitoring nitrous oxide administration, fabricating temporary crowns and more.
A high school diploma and a postsecondary degree in dental assisting are standard prerequisites. Many schools also require that students have either a Certified Dental Assistant credential from the American Dental Association (ADA) or licensure to practice as a dental hygienist.
Many of the courses are hands-on in nature, providing students with practical experience in advanced dental assistant duties and procedures. A program may also include a clinical where students work in a private practice or a clinic. Course may include the following:
- Expanded dental assisting functions
- Dental radiology
- Infection control
- Post-surgery procedures
- Surgical chairside assistance
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not provide specific data for oral surgery assistants, but does report that dental assistants in general held 300,160 positions across the country in May 2012, and 31 percent growth is expected from 2010 to 2020 (www.bls.gov). The majority of those individuals worked for dentists' offices, physicians' offices or federal government agencies. Payscale.com reported in November 2013 that oral surgery assistants earned a median annual wage of $35,738, though salaries overall ranged from $24,299 to $49,702 annually.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) exams for the states of Washington, Oregon, New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and Arizona. Specific requirements vary by state, and they can be found on the DANB website (www.danb.org). Some state use DANB's COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant) certification or CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) as a requirement in order to perform expanded functions.
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