As someone interested in becoming a dental assistant, you care about the health and well-being of people. You are eager to work with a team dynamic in the workplace. You can multitask, and you have great communication skills, which will help you maintain positive, effective relationships with both dental staff and patients. In the dental assisting profession, your attention to detail is a very important skill to ensure that patients receive the proper care that they deserve.
What You Will Learn
Dental assistants work in dental offices and other related areas as integral members of the dental team. They help dentists in the delivery of dental treatment and perform chairside and related office and laboratory procedures. On a typical day, a dental assistant who delivers patient care will:
- obtain patient dental records and history
- make patients as comfortable as possible before, during, and after dental treatment, prepare patients for treatment, and take blood pressure and pulse
- pass instruments and materials to the dentist and maintain a clear working field by using suction or other devices
- sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare tray setups for dental procedures, and instruct patients on postoperative and general oral health care such as tooth brushing, flossing, and nutritional counseling
- prepare materials for teeth impressions and restorations, take impressions for models, as well as expose radiographs
- remove sutures and remove excess cement used in restorations
In the dental assisting program, you will learn about the best practices in dental treatment and patient care. In clinical experiences, you will practice chairside etiquette and complete related office and laboratory procedures. You will learn about infection and hazard control techniques, instrument and equipment operation, health and safety standards, orofacial anatomy, dental material storage, dental therapeutics, preventative and diagnostic measures, patient scheduling, and patient records management. Upon completion of the program, you will:
- be able to demonstrate competency in the knowledge and skill required to systematically collect diagnostic data, including medical and dental histories, vital signs, assisting with and/or performing extra/intraoral exams, dental charting and documentation, radiographs, preliminary impressions, study casts, and occlusal registrations
- be competent in the knowledge and skill required to perform a variety of supportive treatments, including managing infection and hazard control protocol consistent with published professional guidelines, preparing tray set-ups, preparing and dismissing patients, applying current concepts of four-handed chair-side assisting, assisting with and/or applying topical anesthetic, assisting with and/or placing and removing rubber dam, assisting with and/or applying fluoride agents, providing patient preventive education and oral hygiene, providing pre- and post-operative instructions prescribed by a dentist, maintaining treatment areas, administering CPR when indicated, fabricating custom trays, cleaning and polishing removable appliances, fabricating provisional restorations, and manipulating dental materials
- demonstrate competency in the knowledge required for business office procedures, including managing telephones, controlling appointments, performing financial transactions, completing insurance/reimbursement forms, maintaining supply inventory, managing recall systems, and operating business equipment to include computers
- demonstrate ethical decision-making skills and adhere to state and federal laws and standards within the profession
- choose appropriate oral communication and interpersonal skills when working collaboratively with patients, coworkers, and the public
Graduates of the dental assisting program will find work in dental offices and related facilities and are eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board Examination to gain certification.
Students in this program may be exposed to blood-borne pathogens and infectious diseases through the provision of clinical services. It is for this reason that students are provided instruction on infectious diseases, mechanisms of disease transmission, and infection control procedures to reduce the risk of disease transmission, including those published by national public health agencies, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information, please refer to our student OSHA hazardous communication standard (PDF) and student exposure classification bloodborne pathogens (PDF) forms.
The dental assisting program is a one-year diploma program which enables graduates to participate as part of the dental office team. On the other hand, the Central Piedmont Dental Hygiene program is a two-year program in which graduates earn an associate degree. Both programs have a different set of prerequisite requirements. In the professional setting, dental assistants typically work more closely with the dentists with occasional independence while dental hygienists work independently with assistance from the dentist.
If you are a community member interested in using our dental clinic services, please visit our dental hygiene clinic page.
Why Choose Central Piedmont
The dental assisting program is accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), has a 100% pass rate on the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Exam for Radiation Health and Safety, and has a 96% pass rate on the DANB Infection Control Exam.
Real World Education
At Central Piedmont, your education goes beyond what you learn in class. We offer numerous opportunities for you to enhance your learning — and to make friends, network, and pursue your passions — through clubs and organizations, sports, events and activities, leadership opportunities, job experience, volunteer experiences, visual and performing arts, and even international experiences.