Registered Dental Assistant Vs Orthodontic Assistant: Which Career Option Should You Choose?

dental assistant school in california

A career in dental healthcare is an attractive option for various reasons. But, have you ever wondered how would it be to work as a dental assistant or an orthodontic assistant? Both these professionals have well-appointed duties and responsibilities to handle and are considered valuable additions to a dental team.

Although both dental assistants and orthodontic dental assistants have worked on people’s teeth, you might want to explore the purpose of these career options. if you are already searching for the best dental assistant schools in California, you need to explore the differences between these career options before enrolling in the course.

What Are The Similarities?

There are several similarities between an orthodontic assistant and a dental assistant as both are professionals working in the field of dentistry. Both require enrolling for registered educational programs accredited by American Dental Association. Both engage in offering superior customer services and handle duties in the dentist’s office. But the biggest similarity is that an orthodontic dental assistant and a registered dental assistant need to enroll in authentic courses and attend a program in the community college.

What Is A Registered Dental Assistant Program?

The RDA programs in California make an individual eligible to work as a registered dental assistant. Unlike certified DA courses, the RDA program requires an individual to complete a clinical and written examination for certification. Although the requirements in a different state are likely to vary, the RDA certification is usually valid for a couple of years.

Besides, the certification also allows professionals to gain undaunted industry experience to pursue higher positions in the field of dentistry. Professionals earning through an online RDA course in California are authorized to perform clinical and administrative duties. Some of the commonest responsibilities they handle include recording the contact information, and the medical history of patients, interacting with the dentist about the procedures, and scheduling appointments for patients. Here is the breakup of basic duties that RDAs need to perform in the dentist’s office:

  1. Preparation of dental charts
  2. Cleaning and sterilization of dental supplies and equipment
  3. Conducting administrative tasks like answering the patients’ calls and interacting with them for the procedure.
  4. Educating patients about the significance of maintaining oral health and ways to prevent dental anomalies
  5. Provide infection control to the patients when needed
  6. Use drills(handpiece) to create temporary crowns and bridges
  7. Taking X-rays and many more

A registered dental assistant course prepares aspirants in depth to work in the field of dentistry. Depending on the college from where they obtain certification, the course may also prepare them to work as an orthodontic assistant, dental assistant, administrative assistant, treatment planner, healer, oral surgery assistant, hygienist assistant, lab technician, or sales representative in the field of dentistry.

If you are planning to get into a holistic career program in the field of dentistry, choose MDS Dental Assisting Academy to invest in a successful career plan that will let you reap the benefits for a long.

What Is An Orthodontic Dental Assistant Program?

The orthodontic dental assistants work with orthodontists and play a role in maintaining perfect jaw alignment and straightening people’s teeth. To play the role, the orthodontic dental assistants need to maintain devices to be installed inside the patients’ mouth like brackets, jaw expanders, etc. Furthermore, they assist patients to prevent issues like misalignment of teeth and jaws, difficulties in chewing food, and an increased risk of gum diseases.

The orthodontic dental assistant in California needs to enroll in a dental assistant course after completing high school and later gain experience through an externship. During the externship, the aspirants get hands-on training for performing the duties in a clinical setting. If you want to specialize in offering orthodontic care or are keen to work in the office of an orthodontist, an externship would help you gain valuable insights. Here is the breakup of the duties that orthodontic DAs need to perform in a clinical setting:

  • Listening to the orthodontic concerns of patients
  • Maintaining patients’ records and sterilizing dental equipment
  • Getting X-rays of the patients
  • Remove orthodontic devices like springs, elastic bands, and wires
  • Maintaining the cleanliness of patients and tightening them when needed
  • Educating patients about the aftercare of the devices and equipment installed inside the mouth
  • Performing administrative duties in the clinic

Analyzing The Roles

The orthodontic assistant is primarily involved in assisting those patients requiring braces to fix the irregularities in the teeth. They may also tighten the bands of the braces, wires, and other dental equipment inside the mouth apart from the general duties to be performed in the orthodontist’s office.

The registered dental assistant, on the other hand, needs to sterilize the equipment and supplies to be used during the dental procedures, provide infection control, take X-rays of patients, and interact with the patients in the clinic. Are you still in a dilemma about the dental assistant programs to choose from?  Consider your personal preferences, explore the educational programs and their tenures, and the career prospects to make the right choice.

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