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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Delaware

If you are interested in working as a dental assistant in Delaware, you’ll find that it is a straightforward profession to pursue. The Delaware Board of Dentistry and Dental Hygiene places the responsibility of training the dental assistant on the supervising dentist.

This means that the dentist you are working with will decide what duties they feel you are able to complete.

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This means that the dentist you are working with will decide what duties they feel you are able to complete.

Some of the responsibilities that a dental assistant may be expected to handle:

  • Administrative duties
  • Greeting and preparing patients for procedures
  • Discussing oral healthcare and hygiene with patients
  • Preparing the procedure space
  • Sterilizing and maintaining all dental tools
  • Demonstrating home care procedures
  • Placing rubber dams and cotton swabs
  • Taking impressions for models
  • Removing excess cement from dental appliances and restorations
  • Removing temporary medicinal packs and fillings under supervision

Any dental assistant interested in operating radiography equipment must pass one of two exams through the Dental Assisting National Board. Students may choose between either:

  • The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam (taken as part of the Certified Dental Assistant examination)
  • The Delaware Dental Radiologic Technology (DORT) examination (also through DANB)

Dental Assistant Schools in Delaware

Even though Delaware does not have regulations requiring dental assistants to obtain formal training, postsecondary studies can be highly beneficial in gaining employment. Many organizations prefer to hire employees who have some training as it shows a certain level of commitment to the industry.

Bear in mind that if you are thinking of becoming certified in the future, you must pursue a course that has been approved by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). 

There are unfortunately no CODA-approved dental assisting programs in the state, but there are several in the surrounding states. There are four programs in New Jersey, six programs in Pennsylvania, and one program in Maryland. Most CODA-accredited programs take about 9-11 months to complete.

The following is a selection of 3 of those options:

  • Camden County College, Blackwood, NJ
  • Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, NJ
  • Harcum College, Bryn Mawr, NJ

For those who would prefer to study online, consider looking at Penn Foster Career School. Choosing an online program allows you to learn from your own home and work at your own pace.

Delaware Dental Radiologic Technology (DORT) Examination

The Delaware Dental Radiologic Technology (DORT) examination is an exam that is required in order to operate radiography equipment. The exam is administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

To be eligible to take the DORT examination, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Complete an approved dental assistant program
  • Pass the DANB Radiation Safety (RS) exam
  • Be registered with the Delaware Board of Dentistry and Dental Hygiene
  • Submit a completed application to the Board office
  • Pay the required fees

Application Fee: $50

DORT Examination Fee: $200

Schedule the DANB examination through Pearson VUE

You will have three (3) years from the date your application is received to pass the DORT examination. If you do not pass the examination within this time frame, you will be required to submit a new application along with the applicable fees.

Becoming a Certified Dental Assistant

For dental assistants considering getting certified, you will have to have completed a CODA-approved program or graduated from high school and completed 3500 hours of on-the-job training. Once this has been accomplished, you must sit an exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). There are three components to the exam:

  • General Chairside Assisting (GC)
  • Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)
  • Infection Control (ICE)

The components can be taken all at once or separately. If taken separately, they must be completed within a five-year timeframe.

Exams are written at Pearson VUE tests centers. There are currently 2 locations where the tests can be taken: Dover and Newark.

Further Studies

Becoming a dental assistant is not only a great entry-level position; it is also an excellent jumping-off point for those interested in advancing their careers. There there are several different paths available to you:

Dental Hygienist – If you would like to focus on patient care and more advanced dental procedures, becoming a dental hygienist is the right path for you. When looking into becoming a licensed hygienist, check to see if you can apply any of your credits in dental assisting to your degree.

Dental Office Manager – If the administration and business side of the industry is where your interests lie, then pursuing a degree in business or office administration would be the best direction to take.

Dental Laboratory Technician – For those interested in the more technical side of dental work, getting a degree as a laboratory technician will see you responsible for filling prescriptions for crowns, bridges, and dental prosthetics.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations For Delaware Dental Assistants

Positions for dental assistants in the state of Delaware are expected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028, which is less than the national average of 7 percent but still faster than other occupations at about 102 positions per year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) dental assistants make an average of 41,180 per year. In Delaware, the average is slightly lower at $38,800 per year. 

Working in Delaware

Dental assistants are needed in every part of the state of Delaware, so those looking for employment can choose to look in their hometowns or look farther afield.

Dentist offices are the leading employers of dental assistants. Still, physicians’ offices, long-term care homes, and even universities hire for these positions.

The following are excellent resources for those looking to network, learn more about working as a dental assistant and find employment:


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