How to Become a Dental Assistant in Kansas
Dental assistants are an integral part of any dentist’s office in Kansas. Although the position is an entry-level one, the people filling this role are often a patient’s first point of contact. They will set the tone for the rest of the patient’s visit and help them feel comfortable and safe. A successful dental assistant is organized, detail-oriented, and patient-focused. With the proper training and a focused approach, anyone enthusiastic about working in this industry can look forward to a rewarding career.
The Kansas Dental Board regulates the dental industry in the state. The board has determined that dental assistants can work as unlicensed dental assistants or as dental assistants with expanded function training. The primary duties that a dental assistant is allowed to perform in Kansas are:
- Greet patients and prepare them for their appointment
- Discuss oral health with the patient
- Chairside assisting
- Sterilize and maintain dental tools
- Expose process and evaluate dental radiographs
- Maintain dental charts
- Perform infection control and health and safety procedures
- Other miscellaneous duties assigned by the supervising dentist
Dental assistants who have obtained expanded functions training may take on the following responsibilities:
- Coronal polishing
- Coronal scaling
- Assisting with the administration of oxygen or nitrous oxide
Dental assistants at either level are not allowed to perform any of the following duties:
- Administration of anesthesia
- Making diagnoses or writing prescriptions
- Any corrections of the mouth
- Removing any hard or soft tissue of the mouth
Studying in Kansas
Dental assistants looking to obtain expanded functions licensing will need to complete specific training for each role. This training includes:
Coronal polishing – performing this function requires the dental assistant to be trained by a licensed dentist. They can only perform polishing under the direct supervision of that dentist.
Coronal scaling – to perform scaling, the candidate must complete a program approved by the Kansas Board. They can only perform the function under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.
Administration of oxygen and nitrous oxide – dental assistants who wish to pursue these functions must also complete a course approved by the Kansas board. The course must include 16 hours of instruction approved by the Commission on Dental Assistants (CODA). Additionally, the instruction must also include both clinical and textbook approaches that cover the following topics:
- Emergencies and complications
- Medical history
- Theory of pain control
For entry-level dental assistants, there are technically no requirements for formal education. Still, many employers look for staff members with some training under their belt. Dental assistants who want to obtain their expanded function license in coronal scaling or nitrous oxide need to complete a CODA-approved course. Taking a CODA-accredited course can be beneficial, especially if you are planning to become a certified dental assistant later.
There are four CODA-approved programs available in Kansas:
- Flint Hills Technical College, Emporia, KA
- Labette Community College, Parsons, KA
- Salina Area Technical College, Salina, KA
- Wichita State University Campus of Applied Science and Technology, Wichita, KA
For students wishing to study from home or at their own pace, Penn Foster Career School offers an online course in dental assisting.
Many dental assistants choose to become nationally certified through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The basic certification that can be obtained is the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), which consists of completing three examination components which are:
- General Chairside Assisting (GC)
- Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)
- Infection Control (ICE)
The components can be completed all at once or separately, as long as all components are completed within a 5-year time frame.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Across the nation, the dental industry and specifically dental assistants have an extremely bright outlook. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the profession of dental assisting is set to grow by 11 percent from 2020 – 2030, which is higher than other occupations. However, in Kansas, only 330 dental assistant positions are forecasted to open between 2018 – 2029. This number is significantly lower than the rest of the nation. The national average salary is $41,180 per year, which is about $19.80 per hour. Dental assistants make a bit less in Kansas, at $39,590 per year or $19.03 per hour.
Work Opportunities in Kansas
Dental assisting positions are perfect as a jumping-off point for anyone interested in moving up through the dental industry. There is little education required to start out but many opportunities once you are in the position. If you want to perform more advanced dental procedures, you may consider training to become a dental hygienist.
Dental assistants are needed in rural and urban areas. Still, new graduates should have better options when looking in higher-density areas. The top three highest population areas in Kansas are Wichita, Overland Park, and Kansas City. Job seekers can look at dentist offices, physician’s offices, teaching hospitals, and even outpatient care centers.
- En español
- Dental Schools in Kansas
- Dental assistant salaries in Kansas
- Dental hygiene schools in Kansas