So, you took your state board certification and passed – what’s next? Now you have so many opportunities to grow as a dental assistant! How exciting. Hard work really does pay off. CADA is giving you some options to answer your question, “What’s next after state board certification?”
Now that you are certified, there are many CE courses you can take to expand your scope of practice. Two of the most common certifications are coronal polishing and dental sealants.
Coronal Polishing Certification
Coronal polishing is perfect if you are doing assisted hygiene or working in a pediatric office. In case you don’t know coronal polishing is a procedure used to remove stain and plaque from the enamel surfaces of the teeth after the removal of hard deposits such as calculus from the tooth surfaces. It is nice if a hygienist is running behind. The assistant can jump in and polish and floss for the patient at the end of the appointment. It is important that a dental assistant isn’t taking the place of a hygienist in a pediatric setting and only polishing on kids.
A dental assistant cannot scale or remove hard deposits but a dentist or hygienist can. Sadly, many times a dentist will employ a dental assistant to polish so they can pay them less per hour and the calculus does not get removed. As a dental assistant, it is your job to recognize that this is not ethical. You should never take a position where patients are not getting the care they need. Even children get hard deposits and if not removed can lead to early gum disease. Coronal polishing is a wonderful certification to have. It will make you very marketable when looking for a job or help you get that raise you deserve.
Dental Sealant Certification
Dental sealant certification allows an assistant to be independent and also productive for the office. It is a great certification to have. Dental sealants help protect a tooth from a cavity. It does not involve any drilling. It is a coating that flows into the deep grooves of a tooth to prevent plaque and bacteria from nestling into these areas causing a cavity. They are most common for children between the ages of 6 and 12. This is because their new adult molars start coming in.
A dental sealant is a 3-step process that requires keeping the tooth very dry prior to applying the sealant in order for it to be effective and successful. It is important that a dentist check the teeth to be sure there is no start of a cavity or discoloration on the tooth that could lead to a cavity prior to application. You never want to seal in decay because it will mushroom under the surface of the sealant leading to a large cavity for the child. This is typically a continuing education course available at Ohio State University that you can sign up for.
Other CE Certifications
Other certifications available that you can get without being state board certified include nitrous oxide monitoring. This allows the doctor to leave a patient on nitrous oxide to do an exam on another patient. Someone must be in the room with a patient at all times if they are on nitrous oxide and having this certification allows you to stay in the room by yourself with the patient and supervise them. Nitrous oxide is breathed in through the nose and is used to help a nervous patient relax during a procedure. It is nice because the patient can drive her/himself to and from the appointment as it is completely out of their system at the end of the procedure.
The Advantage of Being State Board Certified
The biggest advantage to being state board certified is you can go on to become an EFDA or Expanded Functions Dental Assistant after being state board certified and working chairside for at least 2 years. EFDA school is similar to assisting school where you sign up for a program and complete the requirements necessary. An EFDA can place fillings in the mouth and makes around $30.00/hr. starting out. Many assistants choose to go this route due to the significant pay increase.
Continuing education courses are important and required in dentistry to renew your dental assisting certification each year. This expands your knowledge in the profession so that you can continue to educate your patients about the latest news and technology in dentistry. For more interesting articles about dental assisting, check out our blog.