How to Become a Dental Assistant in Oklahoma
Becoming a dental assistant in Oklahoma can be a lucrative and straightforward career for someone interested in entering the healthcare field without the long study times. You do not need a degree to become a dental assistant in Oklahoma. Instead, you can start entry-level in a dental clinic and receive the supervision and training you need from a licensed dentist.
Oklahoma has three levels of dental assisting, which means you have three different options. You can become a dental assistant by performing chair-side functions or a dental assistant with expanded functions. The third level is to be an oral maxillofacial surgery assistant. However, you also have the option to combine the three.
Dental assistants are restricted to the duties the state assign to their level. For example, chairside dental assistants can’t carry out expanded functions. Expanded functions are limited to dental assistants with expanded functions certification. Below are the three levels of dental assisting in Oklahoma and what you can do with each tier.
As a dental assistant in Oklahoma, you get to perform chairside duties such as:
- Educating patients on proper oral health care
- Cleaning and sterilizing dental equipment
- Checking in patients and getting them settled
- Assisting the dental team during procedures
- Scheduling appointments and picking up calls
Dental Assistant with Expanded Functions
As a dental assistant with expanded functions, you will be allowed to carry out the following tasks under the direct or indirect supervision of a licensed dentist:
- Apply topical fluoride and desensitizing agents
- Polish coronal surface of teeth
- Expose intraoral and extraoral radiographs
- Place pit and fissure sealants
- Assist in the administration of nitrous oxide
Oral Maxillofacial Surgery Assistant
Under direct visual and non-visual supervision of a licensed dentist, the following functions are what you can carry out:
- Initiate and discontinue an intravenous line
- Draw up and prepare medication
- Follow instructions of the dentist’s while assisting in administering medication
- Follow instructions of dentist to adjust the rate of intravenous fluids
- Assist dentist by reading, recording vital signs of a patient under sedation or anesthesia.
How to Become a Dental Assistant in Oklahoma
Although you do not need a formal education to be a dental assistant in Oklahoma, you still need to meet the state-level requirements.
According to the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry (OBD), all dental assistants must obtain a dental assistant permit from the board within 30 days of employment. Additionally, you must pass a background check with criteria established by the Board of Dentistry.
You can now begin your journey as a dental assistant in a dental office when you pass these requirements! With foresight and dedication, you can get more professional knowledge and Certifications required for growth in the dental field.
However, for each of the duties you desire to perform, you must obtain an expanded duty permit from the Oklahoma board of dentistry. Below is a list of expanded functions you can take on and their requirements:
- Radiography Requirement:
To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and carry out dental radiographic procedures in Oklahoma, you must take a 7hours course in radiation safety and protection.
After which, you’ll submit written proof of competency from your current employer to certify your skills and apply for a radiation safety permit from the Oklahoma board of dentistry. You can also follow the following process:
- Possess a Certificate of Dental Assistant (CDA) approved by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
- Apply for a radiation safety permit from the board of Dentistry
- Coronal polishing/Topical fluoride:
In Oklahoma, to take on this duty, you must complete an Oklahoma board of dentistry-approved 14-hour course including clinical components.
- Placement of Pits and Fissure Sealants: To carry out this duty in Oklahoma, you must earn the coronal polishing/topical fluoride permit and complete the board of Dentistry -approved 12hours course.
- Administration of Nitrous Oxide: To legally take on this duty in Oklahoma, you must complete a board-approved 12hour course.
Also, as an oral maxillofacial surgery assistant in Oklahoma, you must hold an oral maxillofacial surgery assistant permit. To earn this, you must:
- Pass a background check with criteria established by the OBD
- Be supervised by an oral maxillofacial surgeon with an Oklahoma license
- Be employed and take a 6months program under the direct supervision of a licensed oral maxillofacial surgeon
- Completion of the Dental Anesthesia Assistant National Certification Exam (DANCE)
- Hold valid Basic Life Support (BLS) certification
- Take a 4hours program approved by the board
- Complete an infection control program approved by the board
- Meet all other requirements established by OBD
- Apply to the OBD for a permit
Dental Assistant Schools in Oklahoma
The CODA usually accredits dental assisting training schools. Below are a few CODA-accredited dental assisting schools that can give you the skills you need:
Western Technology Center, Weatherford: This institution offers a nine-month full-time major to adult students who have a school diploma or GED. As a student, you’ll get trained in courses like foundations of dental assisting, biomedical sciences, dental sciences, and a 300hours practical at dental offices to improve your skills. You will also have to pass a background check and possess an immunization record.
Moore Norman Technology Center, Norman: As a student in this school, you will undergo a 300hour practical training. You will also take courses in pre-clinical dental assisting, essential dental assisting skills, clinical practice and chair-side fundamentals. You will also be eligible to take a certificate course for Oklahoma expanded duty permits.
Rose State College, Midwest City: The college offers an associate in applied science degree or a 1year certificate program. You will gain hands-on training in courses such as dental assisting, dental radiography, advanced clinical procedures, dental pathology and dental anatomy. The college also offers online courses you can take at your comfort.
Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa: This institution offers training in foundations of dental assisting and clinical applications dental assisting to high school students and adults.
Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Oklahoma City: This school offers a 10month dental assisting program. Their program includes academics, laboratory and clinical courses to prepare you for a career in dental assisting. In addition, you will learn chairside assistance, patient care, sterilization, dental cast and impression skill and digital imaging.
You can also enroll in a comprehensive online program with Penn Foster to study at your comfort and convenience!
License and Certificates
Here are some certifications you can take to increase your growth rate in your dental assisting career. These certifications will also make it easier to get a job faster:
- Certified dental assistant (CDA): You must have graduated from a COAD accredited dental assisting program to take this exam. Or you have at least 3,500 hours of approved work experience.
- Certified preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA): You must graduate from a COAD accredited dental assisting program for this certificate. Or possess a current CDA certification and verification of competency in each of the four CFDA functions.
- Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant: For this certificate, you must possess a current CDA certification or graduate from a CODA-accredited school.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey, Dental Assistants currently earn a minimum of $38,660 per year or $18.59 per hour. Top earners earn as high as $163,145, but as a newbie, you can look to make about $57,146.
Note that depending on your location and place of employment, you can make as much as $27,190. So there is always room for improvement!
Future Career Outlook
Dental assisting is a rapidly growing field in Oklahoma. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a 19% increase in dental assistants’ employment between 2016 and 2026. You can get a job in dental offices, hospitals and clinics to gain real-world experience. You can begin in top Oklahoma cities such as Tulsa, Norman, Oklahoma City and Yukon.