How to Become a Dental Assistant in Idaho

Dental assistants in Idaho are an integral part of every dental office. Although it is an entry-level position, dental assistance does have responsibilities towards the team and patients. Dental Assistants must be detail-oriented, organized and have excellent communication skills. They are the first staff members a patient sees upon arrival, setting the tone for their entire visit.

Dental assistants in Idaho are regulated by the Idaho State Board of Dentistry, which recognizes two levels of dental assistants in the state.  These levels are Basic level dental assistants and dental assistants possessing expanded functions licenses.

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Basic level dental assistants can expect to perform the following duties:

  • Operate x-ray equipment  and process radiographs
  • Record of the oral cavity
  • Place topical anesthesia
  • Take impressions for diagnostic models, bleach trays, fabrication of night guards, temporary crowns, or other dental appliances
  • Remove excess bonding material
  • Record diagnostic bite registration
  • Place and adjust archwires
  • Educate patients on oral hygiene

Dental Assistants Possessing Expanded Functions Licenses may perform the following duties:

  • Application of pit and fissure sealants
  • Fabrication of placement of temporary crowns
  • Mechanical polishing of restorations
  • Initiating, regulating, and monitoring administration of nitrous oxide and oxygen
  • Coronal polishing using a high-speed handpiece for the removal of cement or resin

Expanded Functions License Requirements

Dental assistants who wish to obtain their expanded functions license must complete the following requirements:

  • Completion of an Idaho board approved expanded functions training program through a college or vocational program with the following verification of training:
  • Hold a certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)

Or

  • Completion of a board-approved program in the fundamentals of dental assisting through an out of state program or post-secondary program

Or

Have completed the Expanded Functions competency exam with a score of 85 percent or higher

After completion of training, the program’s overseer will issue a certificate of completion allowing the candidate to practice as a Dental Assistant with an Expanded Functions license. Candidates who have completed out-of-state programs can submit evidence to the board for possible approval.

Studying in Idaho

While basic-level dental assistants are not required to complete post-secondary programs, it can be quite beneficial as many employers look for assistants with a certain amount of experience and knowledge.

Students who choose to complete a program approved by the Commission on Dental Assisting (CODA) are even further ahead as it prepares them for possible DANB certification, which helps fulfill requirements for the expanded functions license. There is one CODA-approved program in Idaho, two in neighboring Montana, six in Oregon, and six in Washington.

  • College of Western Idaho, Boise,

For students looking to study from home, or those who require a more flexible schedule, Penn Foster Career School offers an online program that helps you get started from the comfort of your own home.

Getting Certified

Many dental assistants choose to become nationally certified through DANB. The basic certification offered is the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and requires candidates to sit a three-part examination which consists of the following three components:

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

These components can be completed all at once or separately, as long as all parts are completed within a five-year timeframe.

Examinations are taken through Pearson VUE Test centers, of which there are two located in Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

The career outlook for dental assistants across the nations is quite bright, with an expected growth of 11 percent from 2020 – 2030. This growth is faster than most occupations.  The outlook for those looking to work in Idaho is exceptionally bright, at a whopping 35 percent growth rate from 2018 – 2028. Much of this accelerated growth is due to an aging population requiring more complex dental care, as well as a rise in the public’s understanding of the importance of oral hygiene.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), dental assistants make an average of $41,180 per year, which works out to about $19.80 per hour. For assistants in Idaho, salaries are not as high at $35,460 per year or $17.05 per hour. With this lower average salary in mind, education becomes even more critical for those looking to work in the dental industry.

Working in Idaho

Generally, larger city centers are the best places to look for employment. Still, in Idaho, Pocatello has the highest employment rate of dental assistants out of all urban areas across the U.S based on relative population. Seven out of every 1000 employees in Pocatello are dental assistants.

For those who prefer urban environments, the top 3 most prominent urban areas of Idaho are Boise City, Meridian, and Nampa. For further information, take a look at the following resources:

Idaho Dental Assistants

Idaho State Dental Association

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