About dental assistants
Dental assistants are regulated health professionals who provide high-quality oral care to patients. They may work with dentists, hygienists and dental therapists autonomously and in four-handed dentistry during the examination and treatment of patients. The dental assistant is responsible for ensuring that the process and practice of infection control is conducted to accepted professional standards.
Dental assistants practise in dental offices and labs (general and specialty), but they may be employed by governments, community health centres, clinics, private care homes and educational institutions.
CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of dental assistants in Canada.
- Data from 2011 to 2013 is available on request by completing this data inquiry form or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For more information on CIHI’s health workforce data, visit the HWDB metadata page.
Reports and analyses
- Canada’s Health Care Providers: Provincial Profiles, 2013
- Canada’s Health Care Providers — 1997 to 2011: A Reference Guide
In Canada, dental assistants are regulated in all provinces except Quebec and Ontario. Dental assistants are not regulated in the territories.
To practise as a dental assistant in Canada, an individual must obtain a licence from one of the dental assistant authorities in Canada. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.
- Hold a certificate in dental assisting from an accredited, recognized program or another dental-related assisting program
- Pass the National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate (applicable in most provinces)
- Register with a provincial regulatory body as required
Scope of practice
Dental assistants are highly trained professionals who perform clinical and administrative procedures through assignment and delegation of duties and responsibilities.
The scope of practice for dental assistants is articulated in provincial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.
The main functions of dental assistants includei
- Collecting patient information
- Preparing and maintaining dental instruments and equipment
- Assisting dentists with patient care, and with preparation of dental materials such as dental composites, amalgams and cements
A dental assistant may also be involved in managing dental emergencies, examining, diagnosing or planning dental treatment, performing final placement of fixed or removable dental prosthetic appliances, managing dental records, and managing patients during dental procedures
i. Canadian Dental Assistants Association. Scope of Practice. Accessed May 13, 2016.