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Become a Dental Assistant in Nevada

Dental assistants are beneficial members of the dental team. Their duties range from administrative tasks to patient care. According to the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners, it is not mandatory for Nevada dental assistants to be licensed. Education and training requirements, as well as responsibilities, are left up to the employer. All tasks that dental assistants perform must be done under the supervision of a licensed dentist. If you are interested in a fast-paced, hands-on career that involves working with and helping people, then a career in dental assisting might be the job for you.

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What do Nevada Dental Assistants do?

Dental assistants are qualified to execute several tasks involving patient care and support in a dental practice, as long as they work closely with a licensed dentist. Administrative tasks, sterilizing instruments and preparing rooms for patients are other duties a dental assistant may have that can be done without supervision. The responsibilities of a dental assistant will vary based on where they are employed. However, most dental assistants can expect to perform all or most of the following tasks:

  • Take and develop x-rays and radiographs
  • Take impressions of teeth
  • Place orthodontic ligatures
  • Remove sutures
  • Place or remove periodontal packs
  • Remove excess cement from restorations and appliances
  • Administer topical anesthetics
  • Place temporary crowns and bridges
  • Apply denture sealant
  • Fit orthodontic bands
  • Retract a patients tongue and cheek during procedures
  • Rinse or suction debris in the patient’s mouth after cleaning
  • Instruct the patient in oral hygiene practices and preventive procedures
  • Remove soft plaque and stains from teeth
  • Administer topical fluoride
  • Make sure that patients are comfortable before, during and after exams and procedures
  • Prepare the room and patients for procedures
  • Sterilize instruments
  • Hand instruments to the dentist or dental hygienist during procedures
  • Complete lab tasks
  • Keep dental records
  • Schedule appointments
  • Work with patients on billing and accept payments

While the list of tasks that a dental assistant may perform is quite extensive, there are a few things that dental assistants are not permitted to do. These include:

  • Administering any local or general anesthesia
  • Any surgical procedures
  • Making a diagnosis
  • Prescribing medication

Finding an Accredited Dental Assistant School in Nevada

While it is not required by state law that Nevada dental assistants complete an educational program, it is recommended. These programs will teach the necessary skills for the job to start off prepared rather than learning as you go. There are a handful of dental assisting programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) available in Las Vegas and Reno. Below is an overview of these programs:

  • Truckee Meadows Community College (Reno)
    • Ten-month certificate program
    • Fully-equipped dental clinic for lab work
    • The program can be completed part-time in two years
    • Online content is available, but classes and labs must be taken in-person
Northwest Career College, Las Vegas
  • Northwest Career College (Las Vegas)
    • The program can be completed in as little as nine months
    • Hands-on instruction
    • Flexible class schedules
    • It consists of online classes and in-person labs
  • Las Vegas Dental Assistant School
    • Nine-month program
    • Classes are online and self-paced
    • Weekly in-person labs
    • Scrubs and supplies included with tuition
    • Career placement assistance

If you are interested in an exclusively online program, consider the one offered by Penn Foster.

Each dental assisting program is unique, but most offer similar coursework, including:

  • Chairside Assisting
  • Dental Radiography
  • Dental Head and Neck Anatomy
  • Dental Science
  • Dental Materials
  • Lab Procedures
  • Pharmacology
  • Infection Control
  • Sterilization
  • Clinical Practicums

Most dental assisting program coursework is also transferable to dental hygienist programs if you’re interested in expanding your career in the future.

Dental Assisting Certification

Certification isn’t mandatory for dental assistants in Nevada either. Still, many dental assistants choose to obtain the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential that is offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). This is the most sought-after national certification. To get a CDA, you must fulfill the following educational requirements:

  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assistant program, OR
  • Hold a high school diploma or GED, and complete 3500 approved work hours

You must also take and pass the DANB’s CDA three-part exam. The CDA certification must be renewed every two years. To renew your CDA, you will need to complete 12 continuing dental education (CDE) credits annually. These credits need to last at least 45 minutes and pertain to dental assisting or dentistry. Additionally, dental assistants must hold current certification in Basic Life Support (BLS) or CPR, whether they are CDAs or not.

Similarly, the operation of radiographic equipment and the performance of dental x-ray procedures by dental assistants are not licensed by the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners. The licensed dentist is responsible for, and must sign a sworn affidavit to the effect of the proper training of supervised staff.

Career Outlook for Dental Assistants

Currently, job growth in the dental assistant career field is strong. Nationally, there is a predicted job growth of 11 percent over the next few years. The state of Nevada is experiencing even more growth. By 2028, the state expects to see job openings for dental assistants increase by 14 percent. This means approximately 370 new dental assistant jobs will become available in Nevada annually.

Dental Assistant Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for U.S. dental assistants is $41,180, or $19.80 hourly. The highest-paid dental assistants make up to $58,000 annually. Dental assistants who are certified and those with more experience are the ones who are likely to make more than the average wage. The average annual rate for Nevada dental assistants is slightly lower than the national average at $39,900, or $19.18 hourly. More information.

Finding a Job as a Dental Assistant in Nevada

Most dental assistants are employed at private dental practices. Other places of employment include dental schools, hospitals, community clinics, nursing homes and government agencies. With the higher than average job growth rate in the state, dental assisting jobs are available throughout Nevada. However, the larger cities in the state like Henderson, Las Vegas and Reno are most likely to have the most job openings. These cities will likely pay more as well. According to indeed.com, most job openings in and around Henderson and Las Vegas pay up to $20 hourly, which is just above the average hourly rate both statewide and nationally. If you are interested in a rewarding career that requires little training, consider becoming a dental assistant in Nevada.


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