This article was also published in January 2020 by Second District Society, the Ninth District Dental Association, and Queens County Dental Society. 

Serving the Dental Profession Since 1985

DATC Dental Auxiliary Training Center New York

Over the last forty years, dental assistants have been in very short supply. The most serious shortage of dental assistants exists today. If you have tried to find and hire a new dental assistant, you have learned it is not an easy or pleasant experience. Experienced or trained dental assistants are not readily available for employment.

How It Started

Dental Auxiliary Training Center DATC New York Dental AssistantsIn 1985 the Dental Auxiliary Training Center’s (DATC) Founder, Lisa Lyle, who has been teaching dental assistants since 1977 and the author of this article; recognized the need for trained dental assistants and joined forces with New York State District Dental Societies to create local adult evening programs for dental assistants.

The objective of DATC is to reach out to communities to find women and men who are interested in the profession of dental assisting and provide training locally in classes held at the District Dental Society Headquarters Buildings. DATC has been and continues to work with Second District, Ninth District, Nassau, Queens, and Suffolk County Dental Societies.

Dental Assistant Job Shortages Explained

The question of why there is always a shortage can be answered simply if you look at the history the dental assisting. Dental assisting is not viewed as a “profession” as is dental hygiene. There is no required training for the dental assistant, and dental assistants are mostly hired and trained on-the-job.

The lack of any formal training has allowed the salary of the dental assistant to be traditionally low, in many cases at or below minimum wage. The duties and responsibilities of the dental assistant require so much more than on-the-job training.

A dental assistant that is trained by the employer dentist learns “how to do things”, they rarely have the opportunity to learn “why they are doing them”. The lack of formal training leaves serious inequalities in the important knowledge base of the dental assistant to be able to perform his or her duties to the best of their ability for you and the patient. If someone were to randomly test multiple on-the-job trained dental assistants, they would find the knowledge base to be extremely inconsistent as well as inadequate.

Find a Career in Dentistry

To be a dental assistant one must first, love what they do. In addition, they must be mature, responsible, motivated, interested in dentistry, and willing to learn. Hiring someone off the street and expecting them to arrive with all these qualities is somewhat ambitious and then attempt to teach them all they need to know to be able to assist, is a herculean if not an impossible challenge. As a result, on-the-job trained dental assistants come and go.

As dentists, your role and responsibilities are to elevate the “profession” of dental assisting, or the problem of finding a quality dental assistant will never go away. If you hire someone off the street, you should consider getting them formal classroom training to augment what you are teaching them in your office. Formal training will benefit you as it will greatly improve your in-office training and speed up the performance of your dental assistant. Collectively, as dentists, you need to reach out and encourage young women and men in your community to enter the “profession of dental assisting”. Dental assistants must have a great outgoing personality and like to help people. Prospective dental assistants are all around.

They can be found in local cafes, banks, corner stores, retail shops, or perhaps even a patient. Talk to that person (you already know) about dental assisting and invite them into your practice to see and observe what the dental assistant does. If they are interested give them the opportunity and send them for formal classroom training. Treat and pay them well, give them a future career and plan.

As you already know your dental assistant is the most important employee to you, in your practice. Lastly, this is the problem of the dental community to solve. Become proactive in helping yourself (and as a group) is a solution that has been needed for many years.

About the NY State Optional Dental Assistant License

In New York State Dental Assistants can be Licensed by the New York State Education Department, Office of the Professions. The license is optional and has been available to dental assistants since around 1999. It is not mandatory for a dental assistant to become licensed unless they are performing any of the tasks found at

Without the NY license, a dental assistant may not perform any of the tasks on the list. Please read all the information completely. The DATC program is not a licensing program, it is a skills program to provide training for:

  • Any students who are interested in entering or re-entering the career field
  • Already employed dental assistants who have no formal classroom training
  • Working dental assistants who are interested in preparing to take the DANB Exam which is part of the requirements for the NY State License

The DATC Fundamentals of Chairside Dental Assisting program teaches to the DANB Exam. DATC offers a unique pathway only to DATC graduates who choose to become licensed once they become employed in the profession and fulfills all the requirements to take and pass all 3 parts of the DANB Exam. Most dental assistants are not licensed in NY State. As of July 2021, there are 1573 licensed dental assistants out of about 26,000 practicing dental assistants in New York.

The Dental Auxiliary Training Center believes that quality training in dental assisting skills can lead to a successful and rewarding lifelong career. We have successfully trained thousands of dental assistants who have found our school and many of which have become employed in practices in Brooklyn and the other areas where we offer our training programs. We appreciate any student referral that you may pass along to our school, as the more dental assistants we train, the more available to dentists in need.

At DATC, all programs are designed to help students learn the theory, skills, duties, and procedures needed for employment in a dental office or clinic, as well as to develop the habits of lifelong learning needed in today’s ever-changing job market.

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