Orthodontic Assistant Training Programs and Classes

Read on to learn more about training programs and classes for aspiring orthodontic assistants, who are dental assistants specializing in corrective dentistry. Read about degree and certification options in dental assisting, and review how you can specialize your training in orthodontics. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Orthodontic assistants generally start out with dental assisting training, and obtain additional training in orthodontic assisting. Since they deal with braces, their training focuses on malocclusion and corrective appliances as well as infection control. Orthodontic assistants can obtain certification after acquiring required hours of practice and passing the certification examinations.

Training Certificate or associate's degree in dental assisting followed by certificate program in orthodontics
Classes Human and oral anatomy, dental radiology, dental office management, materials and specialties in dentistry
Certification Professional certification is available through the Dental Assisting National Board

What Is an Orthodontic Assistant?

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), orthodontists use corrective appliances, such as braces and retainers, to correct dental malocclusions, such as crowded teeth and improper jaw alignment (www.ada.org). An orthodontic assistant is similar to a dental assistant, but because of the complex mechanics used in orthodontics, an orthodontic assistant is a specialized dental assistant who has additional training in orthodontics. Assistants work alongside and under the supervision of orthodontists, replacing and adjusting orthodontic appliances.

What Training Is Required?

Although orthodontic assistants don't provide the same services as dental assistants, many begin with a certificate or associate's degree program in dental assisting. While a certificate program includes training only in dental assisting, an associate's degree program is more comprehensive and includes general education courses, such as biology, math and natural science. In addition to completing the general curriculum, you'll also complete a practicum in which you would practice in dental labs and possibly work in a dentist's office. Not all dental assisting programs include training in orthodontics, so you may need to find a certificate program or training course in orthodontics; these are typically short-term programs requiring less than six months of training.

What Classes Will I Take?

Orthodontic classes will familiarize you with orthodontic equipment and assisting procedures. You'll learn to manipulate orthodontic appliances, such as wires and brackets, to help with the overall alignment process. You may also learn to strengthen or relax wires, replace bands, pour orthodontic models and take x-rays. Your program may also cover the following topics:

  • Infection control
  • Appliance fabrication
  • Safety procedures
  • Tooth numbering system
  • Appliance design
  • Malocclusion classification
  • Appliance repair

How Can I Get Certified?

There are four paths to becoming a Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), including 3,500 hours of orthodontic assisting experience, a high school diploma or GED, completion of an orthodontic assisting course or current or former status as a Certified Dental Assistant (www.danb.org). You'll also need to pass the Certified Orthodontic Assistant, Orthodontic Assisting and Infection Control exams.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

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  • Kaplan University

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    • Master
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  • Strayer University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

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  • Capella University

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  • Argosy University

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  • Virginia College

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