How the heck do some of you have work experience in dental office?

Meeza

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Jul 25, 2014
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Most states wouldn't allow dental assisting so not sure about that. I just got in with a really kickass dentist who has been paying me 3 years to do the work I started as a volunteer with. Mostly office stuff. No real formula for how to go about it unfortunately.
 

redhotchiligochu

D3
2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
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Hi,
As the title says, how do you guys have a work experience at dental office?
I've been shadowing for a long long time but that's about it. No "work" experience.
Some people on this forum say they worked as a "dental assistant" without training but I don't understand how their dentists allow them to work at their practice without a proper training/education and pay them. The most I've done while shadowing for three years was opening sealed implants at the request of my dentist and I occasionally helped the assistants and hygienists with suction but that's all. What type of work did you (who worked as dental assistant without training) do?
Some of the smaller (maybe struggling) practices are willing to hire you for cheap and with no certification/work experience. Like Meeza said, it depends on the state but if you're answering phone calls, doing inventory, typing in numbers for perio charting, suctioning, you don't need certification for that.

Best way is not by cold-calling but getting to know a dentist and maybe even shadowing him/her before asking.
 
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DC206R

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Sep 9, 2013
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Sometimes its luck. I was able to find a place that trained me to sterilize and do lab work. Another place I shadowed trained me to do light assisting but now my work load is increasing. The laws are different for each state so look into yours.
 

ncide

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Mar 2, 2015
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You can get certified or have some training before hand. That's what I did. Then I applied to entry-level job openings and I got 3 offers.
 

c12494

2+ Year Member
May 18, 2016
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Having a parent who is a dentist is helpful in this aspect, but some dentists will hire you for much cheaper than they could a certified dental assistant and train you themselves. When I worked as a dental assistant I was in college and did just about everything all the other certified dental assistants did except take x-rays, but it took me awhile to learn how to do everything. I slowly started doing more than just perio charting and taking notes or sterilizing, you just learn as you go.
 
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Jun 3, 2016
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It's definitely luck! I started as a babysitter for a periodontist when I was 16 and she trained me on the job as an assistant. I did everything that a certified dental assistant would do aside from taking X-Rays. I then was able to get a job at two other offices because I had this experience. A lot of dentists are willing to train you because assistants aren't always the easiest to find. Look on Craigslist for listings that say that no experience is necessary or call and ask if they'd be willing to train you on the job--I think you'd be surprised how many dentists would be willing to help you! If you could get X-Ray certified you would have an even better chance at getting a position too.
 
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okiedokeartichoke

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Jul 11, 2015
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My experience was pure luck and I feel super fortunate that I was at the right place, at the right time. I just happened to stumble upon a practice full of good, genuine people who wanted to help me out. I cold called an office in my town just asking to shadow. I was only there for two weeks, and out of the blue, the awesome dentist/now boss asked me if I'd like to work for her. I never hinted that I wanted to work there, so that was a really nice surprise. The staff and the dentist all liked me enough for me to stick around, and they appreciated the extra help that I gave around the office even before I was hired. I've been there for one year so far working part-time doing mostly sterilization work, some perio charting, suctioning, organizing, front desk stuff. No certification.

It's funny because before I got this opportunity, I was going through Craigslist trying to find DA jobs endlessly. I'd comb through the ads every day for a couple weeks, sending resumes and attending an interview with no fruitful results. Then this happened. Sometimes opportunities come to you when least expect it/are not actively searching for it.
 

BluntForceTrauma

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Dec 1, 2013
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I work as an ortho assistant and started with no experience other than occasionally volunteering in an endo office sterilizing work space.

After I graduated from undergrad I called a bunch of ortho and dental offices in the Dallas area where I live and asked if they would train me on the job. Came up lucky with a few family friends who were willing and now I work full time as an assistant and I can do anything including x-rays, impressions, lingual bondings, arch wire changes, bonding preps, etc.

I'd say work your network. If you don't have one, build one. Volunteering is a good thing. Depending on the state, get some training online or in a local class so you can go in with a little more credibility.
 

ncide

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Mar 2, 2015
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They let you do the entire lingual bonding procedure? I was able to prep everything excluding light curing the composite as an ortho assistant.
 

tlnjd117

2+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2016
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Pre-Dental
I applied for a sterilization position for cleaning instruments and setting up rooms and eventually got trained to become a DA. In California and some states you don't need to be registered or have formal training. Start at the bottom and work your way up, most offices recruit from within their team so if you show interest and express your willingness to learn more I'm sure the dentist will train you. Plus I've heard most dentists prefer to train their own assistants hands on, because the RDA programs can teach differently than what the dentist prefers. If you find a dentist willing to train you then take the opportunity!
 

JLT223

Dental Student
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Jun 3, 2015
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Gap year and living in a state with no mandatory licensing for DAs. More people applying have this type of experience than you'd think.
 

mroerdh22

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Jun 9, 2015
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There are people out there who have worked as licensed assistants or hygienists. I do raise my eyebrows at some people on here who say they were dental assistants in offices. You can attend a formal training for assisting (typically a 10-12 week program) or hygiene (1 year for AS or 2 year for BS) that will result in licensure for your state. There are some dentists out there who will train assistants on the job but will have to obtain licensure within a certain period of time to be legal. You can always check your state laws on this and seek out a dentist who may be willing to train you. I attended dental hygiene school and worked private practice for a number of years, so that's where my work experience comes from.
 
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fayevalentine

See you space cowboy.
5+ Year Member
Feb 13, 2014
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Got lucky and found a mentor who was willing to train me. My state doesn't require a certification except for radiographs, which I got at his/her request and I'm glad I did. Took me a little bit to get good at them :).
 
5

577455

After volunteering at a few free dental clinics, I emailed a local FQHC asking if I could volunteer. I provided my resume. Luckily the dental clinic was a rotation site for two dental schools and an AEGD clinical site. First I was only allowed to clean up the rooms and dress them up again. I took every opportunity to learn what I could. When there was a build up in the sterilization room I asked someone to teach me how to sterilize. When I noticed that one of the residents didn't have an assistant, I asked if she wanted me to come in and help. You have to be proactive, and hard working. Probably more important, befriend the staff so that they enjoy you being there. Work so hard that when you aren't there they can feel it. Make yourself the MVP.
At the end of two months I was offered a position as an office trained dental assistant.
Every three weeks I get 3 new D4 students who provide me with advice on dental school and the interview process. I've learned a lot about the dentistry.
I believe this job, the connections it has provided, and the experience it gives, is considerable part of why I am landing interviews this cycle.
 
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x0jessmariex3

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Jul 23, 2015
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Well I have been working at my dental office for a little over a year now. I got the position by dropping off my resume at local offices which included my shadowing experience and other work experiences. In my area there is a lot of dental offices so I just printed a bunch of resumes and tried my luck. One office luckily interviewed me right on the spot.

However, I did have to get my xray license to expose x-rays in NJ. It was only a 3 month course and then a state exam at a testing center. Not too bad. Overtime, I got on job training like the others said starting off with sterilization then learning set ups for procedures and finally assisting the dentists.
 

BluntForceTrauma

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Dec 1, 2013
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They let you do the entire lingual bonding procedure? I was able to prep everything excluding light curing the composite as an ortho assistant.
Yeah man, we can bond anything on the lingual surface, button or retainer. Depends on the ortho me thinks.
 

JeffM

2+ Year Member
May 19, 2016
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Pre-Dental
It depends what state you're in, but in CT you don't need a certification. I got a dental assistant job with no experience, just had to get get certified to take x rays. Didn't have to take a course or anything, just take the test and pass. You just have to keep trying and contacting different offices. I submitted a strong cover letter with my resume to help me stand out. Most other people applying as a DA don't have a college degree so that makes you look better. At the end of the day, you just have to get lucky to have someone give you a chance.
 
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