How To Become an Orthodontic Dental Assistant 

Orthodontic dental assistants assist orthodontists in their work and take patients' orthodontic concerns seriously. If you want to work as an orthodontic dental assistant, learning how to do so can help you develop a career plan. 

In this article, we will discuss the responsibilities, pay, and job outlook for an orthodontic dental assistant and the steps you can take to pursue this career.

Let's get started . . . 

What is an Orthodontic Dental Assistant?

A dental assistant who focuses on helping an orthodontist with tasks like putting on braces and teaching orthodontic patients how to take care of their braces, retainers, and other dental tools is an orthodontic dental assistant. In the field of orthodontics, dental assistants should have the following skills:

  • Dexterity: To evaluate and maintain the orthodontic devices worn by patients, dental assistants can utilize their manual dexterity while using dental tools.
  • Organization: By using organizing abilities, you may organize your tasks and make specific orthodontic procedures successful.
  • Communication: Orthodontists' dental assistants can use their communication skills to explain to patients how to take care of their orthodontic devices and practice good oral hygiene.

What Does an Orthodontic Dental Assistant do?

There are many tasks that orthodontic dental assistants perform. Below is a list of duties for orthodontic dental assistants:

  • Listen to patients' orthodontic concerns.
  • Maintain orthodontic records for patients.
  • Disinfect dental equipment.
  • Take X-rays of patients' teeth.
  • Take impressions of the patient's teeth to create customized mouthguards and retainers.
  • Take out or replace orthodontic devices, including wires, springs, and elastic bands.
  • Inspect and adjust braces.
  • Inform patients about proper orthodontic device maintenance and hygiene.
  • Perform administrative duties like collecting payments and taking insurance.

Salary and Job Outlook for an Orthodontic Dental Assistant

The typical basic pay for an orthodontic dental assistant is $18.73 per hour. Jobs for dental assistants, including orthodontic assistants, are expected to increase by 7% between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

How to Become an Orthodontic Dental Assistant 

You can follow these steps to pursue a career as an orthodontic dental assistant:

1. Obtain a GED or high school diploma.

You must first obtain a high school diploma or GED to apply to orthodontic dental assistant programs. If you do not have a high school diploma, you can prepare for the GED exam by taking online classes.

2. Check the Requirements for your state.

States in the U.S. have different standards for dental assistant education and certification. To help you understand what to anticipate from a job as an orthodontic dental assistant, you can study your state's requirements before you look into educational programs.

3. Explore Educational Programs

Once you know the career path to become an orthodontic dental assistant in your state, you can start looking into educational programs to get the skills you need to work as a dental assistant or an orthodontist. By researching, you can determine how long you want to attend school and what skills you want to learn the most. There are few programs designed specifically for orthodontic dental assistants. If you need help finding orthodontic assistant training programs, you could enroll in a dental assistant program that offers orthodontic lessons to help you get the necessary skills.

4. Complete a Training Program

The following step is to sign up for dental assistant classes at a community college or technical institute. There are a few ways to get an education as an orthodontic dental assistant.

A dental program that lasts roughly a year can lead to a certificate or diploma. A more extended educational program that incorporates practical work and takes about two years can also lead to the achievement of a certificate. A certificate program may be preferable if you want to explore your career options before committing to an associate degree program.

A two-year associate degree can also be earned to work as a dental assistant. Advantages of this option can include higher pay and more specialized orthodontic class opportunities. It can also be easier to transfer credits from an associate degree to a bachelor's degree program should you continue growing your career.

To become a dental assistant, you can master the following skills in a certificate, diploma, or associate degree program:

  • Administrative Tasks: You can learn how to handle billing, payments, and insurance-related responsibilities.
  • First Aid: You can learn how to perform CPR on dental patients and provide other fundamental first aid.
  • Educating Patients About Dental Hygiene: Orthodontic dental assistants can adequately explain how to care for their dental devices.
  • Helping Dentists Perform Procedures: You can get the skills necessary to support a dentist or orthodontist as they treat patients.
  • Equipment Sterilization: During operations, sterilizing the tools can help keep orthodontic patients safe.
  • X-rays: During a certificate program, you can learn to take X-rays of patients' teeth.

5. Utilize an Externship to Gain experience

You can participate in a dental assistant externship to gain knowledge about working as a dental assistant in a clinical environment. An externship is a valuable opportunity to develop job skills through a collaboration between a school and a company. Because it can allow you to work in an orthodontic practice, an externship can be a particularly beneficial opportunity for dental assistants who desire to specialize in that area of dentistry.

6. Create a Resume

After completing a dental assistant training course, you can write a CV that highlights your expertise in both general dental assistant tasks and specific orthodontic tasks. Here are some pointers for your resume:

  • Emphasize hard skills. Technical dental assistant skills can help you stand out from other job applicants.
  • Specify credentials. Include any dental qualifications you obtain on your resume to showcase your skills to potential employers.
  • Be specific about achievements. To help you demonstrate your value as a dental assistant, quantify your accomplishments.

7. Get a Career as a Dental Assistant

To become certified as an orthodontic dental assistant, you might be required to complete a predetermined amount of hours as a dental assistant in some areas. Before specializing in orthodontics, working as a dental assistant can provide you with extra experience to mention on your resume.

8. Obtain Credentials and a Permit

After gaining experience as a dental assistant, you can study for exams for certifications like the Orthodontic Assistant Permit. To work in an orthodontic practice, you can also obtain the qualification of Certified Orthodontic Assistant. Although your state may not require it, certifications help you demonstrate your capabilities to employers.

Chris Lewandowski

Published November 09, 2022

Related Articles

Starting Pay for a Dental Assistant

Here are a few strategies to help you get an idea of what your starting pay as a dental assistant might look like. Keep in mind, pay is dependent on location, so we'll definitely take a look at those hourly rates in different cities across the U.S. too.

Chris Lewandowski

January 30, 2024

Entry Level Dental Assistant Resume Example & Template

If you're an entry level dental assistant or simply inexperienced and you’re looking to build a stronger resume Princess Dental Staffing has the examples and templates to get you started. 

Chris Lewandowski

January 23, 2024

Dental Assistant Skills

We'll give you a hint, this list doesn't include nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, or computer hacking skills. But it does include communication skills, empathy, and patient care. Read more...go on, read it!

Chris Lewandowski

September 05, 2023

Ready to get started?

Join Princess Dental Staffing for free!