Certified Orthodontic Assistants work under the supervision of Orthodontists to treat dental problems. Their key responsibilities include taking X-rays, cleaning and tightening braces, examining teeth and jaw, assisting with dental molds, preparing dental equipments before the procedure, guiding the patients how to care for orthodontic devices etc. In addition, they address cavity issues and provide office administrative duties.
Certified Orthodontic Assistants work in a variety of settings, including government and private hospitals, dental clinics, specialty practices and dental facilities owned by the armed forces.
To become a Certified Orthodontic Assistant, the aspiring candidates have to earn at least a two-year associate’s degree in dental assisting from an accredited institution. The course work includes dental terminology, anatomy, patient care, medical ethics, instrumentation etc. These professionals also learn how to work with orthodontic devices, radiology, records management etc.
The students can also pursue coursework towards a dental hygienist degree program for better job prospects in this field. Candidates are often asked to have at least 2-3 years of experience working in a high-end office.
Licensure and Certification
Since most states of USA require a Certified Orthodontic Assistant to be licensed, the aspiring candidates need to pass a licensing exam and complete a state-approved training program. These professionals can obtain a certification from the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB).
Apart from the knowledge in patient care, Certified Orthodontic Assistants possess wide range of skills such as excellent manual dexterity to perform procedures, empathy towards patient, ability to work with compassion, effective communications and interpersonal skills, computer operating skills etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Certified Orthodontic Assistant remains excellent in USA. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 25% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Certified Orthodontic Assistant was $34,900 in 2013.