Dental Assisting in Canada

Dental Assistants in Canada are part of an integrated healthcare team that provides oral care to patients. While jobs are found mainly in private practices, there are opportunities found in hospitals and regional health units. Each province has its own governing body and individuals should consult that governing body for specific requirements in the province they would like to work in.

It is estimated that there are approximately 26,000 to 29,000 dental assistants in Canada and nearly 20,000 are registered with a provincial dental assisting association.  Of those 20,000 dental assistants approximately 74% are certified/licensed, 99% are female and the average age is 38 years old.

There are several accredited training programs for dental assistants across Canada. Educational requirements to enter these programs include successful completion of high school with an emphasis on sciences including biology and chemistry. In addition, some programs require their students to have and maintain a valid CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) Level C certificate. Once accepted, dental assistant programs provide training in such areas as microbiology and infection control, preventive dentistry, dental radiography, clinical assisting procedures and community dental health.  The Canadian Dental Assistants’ Association recommends that individuals who are interested in the dental assisting profession ensure that the education provider and program/courses they choose has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation Canada.

The registration/licensure of dental assistants in Canada rests with the provincial Dental Assisting Regulatory Authorities (DARA) often referred to as a “regulatory college”, “board”, “council” or “association”. It is recommended that you contact the governing body for specific requirements, view our “ Dental Assisting Regulatory Authorities” page to get contact information.

Throughout Canada, dental assisting is considered to be a “restricted health care occupation”. While the profession is mainly self regulated most provinces require individuals who wish to become dental assistants to be licensed. In order to become licensed, dental assistants will need to hold the National Dental Assisting Examination Board certificate. To know more about NDAEB please click here.

Dental assistants perform a number of duties throughout the day, including collecting patient information, preparing and maintaining dental instruments and equipment, assisting dentists in patient care, preparing 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.

Possible Practice environments include:

  • Private Practice – General Dentistry
  • Private Practice – Orthodontic
  • Private Practice – Prosthodontic
  • Private Practice – Perioodontic
  • Educational Facility – Teaching
  • Educational Facility – Clinical Assessment
  • Hospital
  • Community / Public Health
  • Insurance Companies
  • Dental Supply Companies
  • Other

The evolution of dental assisting is a reflection of the changing nature of dentistry, regulatory structures, new technologies and Canadian society.  The practice of dental assisting involves collaboration with patients, other healthcare professionals and society to achieve and maintain optimal oral health and integral part of well-being.