Can a Felon Be a Dental Assistant?
Finding Employment Trade Schools

Can a Felon Be a Dental Assistant?

Felons before their conviction often had a career in the medical field in mind.  That conviction may have put an end to many of those aspirations.

That doesn’t have to be the case, however.

Previous blog posts have established that it is possible to become a doctor or nurse following their release from prison.  It isn’t an easy road, but it can be done.

For those who have more hopes in the dental area, is it possible for a felon to be a dental assistant?

This blog post will look at this question.

  • Dental Hygienist vs. Dental Assistant
  • Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant
  • Application Process
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Dental Assistant

Dental Hygienist vs. Dental Assistant

When going to the dentist, felons may recall their experience when having their teeth cleaned or when they may have had a more significant procedure.

Was that a dental assistant or a dental hygienist who worked on them?

There is a difference in the roles and a difference in the type of education and training required to achieve either of these positions.

A dental hygienist is a person who typically has an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene and has been educated and trained at a school for Dental Hygienists.

A license is required to work as a dental hygienist.

The role of a hygienist is to clean teeth, examine patients for oral disease, and educate them on how to maintain good oral health.

A dental assistant is an entry level job in the dental field.  While their duties are essential to a dentist, their work is more general and diverse than a hygienist.

An assistant will carry out a variety of duties in a dental office.  They assist the dentist by setting up the rooms, helping the dentist during a routine exam, performing X-rays, doing lab work, or even managing the office.

There is no federal license required.  Each state has its own criteria regarding the dental assistant examination and whether a license, certification, or registration is necessary.

Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant

The State Dental Board in each state can answer questions about that state’s regulations.

Some states require completion of an accredited assistant program and passing an exam while others have no formal educational requirement.

An accredited program will consist of classroom courses as well as practical experience.  There are approximately 300 accredited dental assistant programs in the U.S.

These programs are mostly offered by a community college, vocational, or technical school.

Application Process

For whatever assistant program felons may consider, there is an application process which will require a background check.

Each program may only look at their record for the past seven years.  Some programs will not accept applicants convicted of certain types of felonies, usually those involving crimes of violence or sex.

Other programs will ban anyone with a felony conviction.

In addition to felony convictions, those felons with misdemeanors involving harassment or domestic violence will likely be rejected.

The concern about background relates to the dental assistant’s constant interaction with the public and patient safety issues.

In states not requiring a formal education and training to become a dental assistant, there are opportunities to acquire the necessary knowledge for that role in training on the job.

There are dentists who will hire individuals for an assistant position and individually teach them the terminology, instruments, activities of an assistant, and patient as well as office management techniques.

This of course requires felons to apply to dentists for jobs.

In states in which some type of licensing is a requirement, a background check by the dental office will be essential for meeting the specifications outlined by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The DANB states that applicants must pass an exam.  Applicants for the exam must have completed an accredited program or have a high school diploma or GED and have the necessary work experience.

When looking for dental assistants, there are certain criteria that are highly valued.

Among these are: being detailed oriented to follow specific rules and techniques, having good manual dexterity skills for handling instruments, interpersonal skills in working with patients in pain, listening ability to understand patient reports and follow directives from dentists and hygienists, and good organizational skills for having the tools for the dentist to use when needed.

Recent statistics show more than 318,000 dental assistants currently working in the field with more needed.  So, there is opportunity.

Current estimates reflect that with the interest in health care, including dental care, dental assistants are in the highest demand in the healthcare field.

In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Remember there are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream of working in the healthcare profession.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, educational opportunities, and the ability to acquire loans to finance that education.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Dental Assistant

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream such as becoming a dental assistant, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a dental assistant.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a dental assistant with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.