Dental Assisting Training Programs in New Hampshire
Are you interested in a career in the healthcare field in New Hampshire that doesn’t require long training? Dental assisting is a profession that offers a pleasant work environment and strong job prospects along with advancement opportunities. Your assistance will be important to the dentist and dental hygienist. You’ll work closely with patients, and you’ll find that no two days are alike.
Job Duties of Dental Assistants
Your job duties may vary from one setting to another and are likely to be a blend of varied tasks. Some of what you do may include:
- Preparing patient rooms and work areas
- Sterilizing instruments
- Bringing patients to rooms and making sure they’re comfortable
- Assisting dentist during procedures by handing him tools or holding equipment such as suction hoses or lights
- Discussing proper oral hygiene with patients
- Completing lab tasks
- Processing dental x-rays
- Scheduling appointments
- Updating and maintaining dental records
- Working with patients and dental insurance companies regarding payment
You’ll need to be a detail-oriented person who enjoys interacting with patients, and you should be able to be sensitive to the needs of patients who may be fearful of going to the dentist. Good listening skills are important so that you can follow the exact instructions given to you by the dentist. When you first start this career, the tasks you do may be fairly simple. As you gain experience, you may learn tasks that are more complex.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Dental Assistant in New Hampshire?
There are several options for becoming a dental assistant in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners defines the functions that each category is authorized to perform in section Den 401.90. Job titles for dental assistants in NH are:
- Traditional Dental Assistant. You can get started working as a dental assistant performing basic supportive procedures under the direction of a licensed dentist. There aren’t specific training requirements to work at this level.
- DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). If you hold national DANB certification and have 400 hours of clinical experience as a dental assistant, you’re qualified to work as a CDA.
- Graduate Dental Assistant. If you complete a dental assisting program that’s accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, you’re authorized to work as a Graduate Dental Assistant.
With additional courses or experience, you can become a dental assistant qualified to perform expanded functions. Examples of special functions include:
- Orthodontic functions
- Dental sealants
- Coronal polishing
- In-house tooth whitening
- Infection control in the dental office
- Monitoring nitrous oxide administration
Once you have at least 4500 hours of clinical dental experience, you can also pursue training as an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA), which would qualify you to place, contour and adjust materials used in restorative procedures. To do this, you would need to have current DANB CDA Certification, be a Graduate Dental Assistant or be a dental hygienist. You would need a recommendation for the EFDA course from a dentist licensed in NH and you would need to apply for an EFDA permit through the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners (NHBDE).
Radiography Requirements in New Hampshire
There are also specific requirements to legally operate dental x-rays or perform radiologic functions under a dentist’s supervision in NH. The steps required to be qualified for radiography are as follows:
- You need to be at least 18 years old.
- Be a Graduate Dental Assistant or be DANB Certified. An alternative is to have completed 200 hours of experience, qualify in infection control and pass an Intro to Dental Assisting course.
- Complete an expanded function course in dental radiography
- Pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam or the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam.
Formal Dental Assistant Training Programs in New Hampshire
Dental assistant training programs can usually be completed in a year or less. There is only one CODA certified dental assistant training program in NH, which is at NHTI in Concord, NH. This certificate program consists of 40 credits. Some of the courses included in the program are
- Dental Assisting Science
- Dental Assisting Theory
- Dental Materials
- Oral Hygiene
- Office Procedures and Management
You’ll also have hands on clinical experience. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board national certification exam.
Some New Hampshire residents live close enough to the Massachusetts border to consider traveling across the state line to attend a formal training program. Another option is to pursue dental assistant training online. Penn Foster offers a dental assisting diploma that can be completed online at your own pace which may make it easier to get your training if you currently have a job or other responsibilities.
What Do Dental Assistants Earn in New Hampshire?
Nationally, the median pay for dental assistants according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was $41,180 as of May 2020. This refers to the pay that half of all workers in this profession earn more and half earn less. If you’re paid by the hour, your pay would be approximately $19.80 per hour, which is higher than most other healthcare support roles.
Salary range for dental assistants in New Hampshire as of September 2021 according to Salary.com is between $35,935 and $44,964 with an average annual salary of $40,522. Your actual pay can vary based on your location as well as your training and experience
Job Outlook for Dental Assistants in New Hampshire
The BLS reports that the job outlook for dental assistants is very promising, projecting growth of 11 percent between 2020 and 2030. This is faster than average for all occupations. CareerOneStop predicts a growth rate of about 10 percent in the state of NH between 2018 and 2028 with approximately 170 job openings in this field each year in this state.
While working as a dental assistant is a stable and fulfilling career choice, you may want to consider eventually returning to school to pursue a career as a dental hygienist. With more advanced training and skills, you’ll be in even higher demand and able to earn a higher salary. To become a dental hygienist, you’ll need to complete either an associate’s degree program or a bachelor’s degree program in dental hygiene.
Your Career as a New Hampshire Dental Assistant
Dental assisting is an interesting and rewarding career choice, blending administrative tasks with hands on dental care. As a dental assistant, you may find both part-time and full-time opportunities. Most jobs are daytime hours, but in some settings, there may be evening or weekend hours.
The most common setting to find employment is in the offices of dentists, but you may also find openings in doctors’ offices or schools. When you assist the dentist, you’ll wear a mask, gloves, goggles and protective clothing to help stop the spread of infection to both you and the patients.
The need for skilled dental work is growing because people are living longer and are more educated about what to do to take care of their teeth. There are job opportunities for dental assistants all over New Hampshire. While some are concentrated in larger cities such as Manchester and Nashua, there are opportunities for dental assistants in rural areas of NH as well.