Any Dental Assistants out there that can give advice???


I am on a path looking into the dental assistant training programs. My ultimate goal is to head into dental hygiene. But, after being out of school for 17+ years...I have a lot of pre-requisites necessary BEFORE I could head toward hygiene school. If you are assisting in the dental long have you done it? Would you recommend a certain type of school? The reason I ask this is because I signed up for one and....they...THEY cancelled the classes all together due to low enrollment??! But, now I am scrammbling to find a new school. I am finding extremes in these schools...2 won't give me cost of the programs over the phone and one of those 2 require 750 HOURS of internship at a location they specify. Both of those are 7-9 month programs. Now, there is another one that is only a 10 week program with long Saturday hours....but is a lot less intense. You seem to walk away with the same certification. But, why such oposite extremes? Help...suggestions...and motivation would soo much be appreciated!



Hi Tanya, not an assistant here but I am a hygienist. I needed prerequisites also and I just did an extra year at the school doing the prereq's and any other courses that were not part of the program so it really lightened my load for the 3 year program. I'm in Canada so I'm not sure how it works where you are but doing the assisting course won't change anything as far as hygiene is concerned. Why not try and do the prereq's so that you can do the program if that is your ultimate goal, you don't need the assisting unless you really
want to...every assistant tells me they wished they went straight to hygiene...better pay,
and less hours and kind of your own boss.

Hope I helped somewhat,


Hope this will help: I started in the dental field as an assistant. I was hired and then trained on the job.

If unable to readily find work, without attending an assisting school, I would recommend talking to dentists, in your area, about your interest in assisting. Many dentists are not opposed to having a person watch while they work. You could ask to "shadow" at their office. In the meantime, if you like them and they like you, there may be an opportunity for you to work in the practice, without going through assisting school.

I worked for several years as an assistant before deciding that I had a passion for the field and wanted to make it my career. The enrollment process for hygiene school can be arduous. If it has been a number of years since you have been to school (as it had been for me, I was 28 when I decided to go back to school -- I am currently 40) I found that while waiting to begin the hygiene program, that taking a course at the community college, a course I knew that I would need for hygiene school, was helpful. I worked full-time and took my Anatomy and Physiology classes over the course of 6 months. Having been an assistant and having proven myself with recent, successful coursework only enhanced my odds of being accepted into the program. Which, as I said, can be arduous.

Every day I am thankful for the opportunities that my field has given me. It changed my life. Drastically.

It's not a field for everyone, so I would really, really spend as much time in an office, familiarizing myself with the aspects of the job(s).

Unless assisting school is a job requirement, I would seek employment without it. If it's required, I would choose the course that is the shortest. If work is available, then you will be hired. Regardless. Otherwise, snoop around, call your dentist or a friends or pick up the phone book. Someone will let you in the door.

Good luck.


Dental Schools

Thank you both for your responses. Really...I truly appreciate them. I actually had MY dentist suggest a school to me after me mentioning to him that I would like to take the path of assisting or Hygiene. I always have had the desire but, my life, up until this point never really encouraged me financially and emotionally (previous marriage). But, I have finally found the path of "what I wanna be when I grow up". And here I am! Assisting will give me the taste of what I desire if it's a true path for me without spending the extreme funds and time on hygiene. If hygiene is my path ultimately....I will make it happen But, with 4 children...taking on a 3 year program and handling a family may be too much at once after having so many years out of school. Sigh..... I do know the money hourly is a difference....but...but for what it costs...would like to dabble in it and see if....IF it's is for me.

Assisting school is something my dentist highly suggested and then the chair-side training he said he would walk me though. But, he felt the foundation was important for me to learn. And in the state of TX...a certification is required for assisting. ((Deep Sigh))

I have to be in TX, the colleges that offer Hygiene classes...many ...MANY pre-req's are required. One being an ACT test taken w/in the past 5 years. Cough...chock...gag...Um, yeah, it's been since 1992 since I have taken that test. I don't know how well I would do.. AT ALL!!!! So, square one is where I was starting...and hoping to climb up a little at a time.

Tomorrow (Friday) is open house for me at a potential new school. Hoping to find some informative information! Will keep you posted!

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It sounds like you are on the right track : )

When I made the decision to become a hygienist, I had a GPA that was 2 points LESS than the hygiene school's minimum requirement for acceptance. That meant I had to score extraordinarily high grades in my anatomy classes to bring my GPA up to the minimum for the hygiene school to even look at me. Just puttin' it out there....but an anatomy class is no walk in the park. The hard work in those classes only solidified my desire and ultimate goal.

I posted the quote "A thousand mile journey begins with the first step" on my fridge. I think of that quote often. It brought me a new life and many amazing experiences. In hygiene school your classmates will be from all circumstances. Many with children (you may be the only one with 4 ; ). You can do it. It will not be the first time a mom with four kids struggled through her college program. : ) In my class, there were many difficult situations that people were enduring. Myself included. But, with a sincere desire, you can accomplish anything. Yes, I had student loans to pay back. Yes, I filled out as many financial aid forms and scholarship forms as I could. A lot of hard work and determination made it happen. You can do anything you put your mind to. And you'll have four cheerleaders all the way.

This is why I recommend putting yourself in some 'practice' time. Even if you begin your college courses.......and you can do that.....all day long. (You have raised four kids....... a little college will be nothing, except, maybe, inspirational for your entire family, and for you) But I say to get in there and sniff around. Maybe ask the dentist that suggested the assisting school if he would mind if you came in and watched his practice in operation. I am sure he won't mind. Make sure this is a field you think might be your heartsong. Either way, a little extra college education never hurt anyone.

Good luck with your journey. May it take you wonderful places.

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