Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting

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.

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.

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.

If you are a community member interested in using our dental clinic services, please visit our dental hygiene clinic page.

Program Goals

  • accept 30 qualified students in the fall of each academic year 
  • foster community service by providing ample service learning opportunities 
  • continually improve the dental assisting program through a systematic and continuous process of planning, assessment, and improvement. 
  • prepare graduates who have the necessary skills to perform all DA II functions for North Carolina under the supervision of a licensed dentist 
  • prepare students to successfully pass all three portions of the CDA exams 
  • achieve a completion rate for the dental assisting program of 85% or better each year

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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.

The Details

  • Program Options

    Central Piedmont offers a diploma in dental assisting. The college catalog details the dental assisting program options currently available at Central Piedmont as well as program eligibility and course requirements.

    The dental assisting diploma is designed for direct entry into the respective field. If you would like information on opportunities to transfer associate degree credit to a four-year institution, please visit the Transfer Resource Center.

    Visiting Students

    If you wish to transfer dental assisting course credit back to your home institution, explore how to enroll at Central Piedmont as a visiting student.

    Corporate and Continuing Education

    Central Piedmont's Corporate and Continuing Education provides non-credit, non-degree courses and programs, including job skills, industry-focused career training, certificates, certifications, professional licensure, and personal enrichment. Day, evening, weekend, and online opportunities are available.

    College and Career Readiness

    If you are looking for programs to gain the knowledge or skills necessary to finish a high school degree or to get a job, visit Central Piedmont's College and Career Readiness.

    College Credit for High School Students

    Visit Career and College Promise to learn about opportunities for high school students to earn college credit at Central Piedmont.

  • Dental Assisting Program Requirements and Application

    The dental assisting diploma requires the completion of 48 credit hours, including general education courses. The dental assisting courses are completed over a three-semester academic program. General education courses may be taken prior to entering the program or during the course of the program. For detailed information on dental assisting course and program requirements, visit the Central Piedmont Community College catalog.

      Please note that students in the dental field are at a higher risk than the general population for Hepatitis B. If admitted into the program, it is to your advantage to start the vaccination process for Hepatitis B as soon as you learn of your acceptance. Medical history and documentation forms will be distributed at the orientation following acceptance. Any applicant who is aware that they are carriers of Hepatitis B or C or are HIV positive are required to notify the State Health Director. The notification shall be made in writing to the Chief, Communicable Disease Control Branch, 1902 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1902. Students accepted into the dental assisting program at Central Piedmont will be required to read and sign a bloodborne pathogen form and OSHA's hazard communication form at the mandatory orientation session for new dental assisting students.

      All applicants are required to undergo a criminal background check and drug screen per clinical agency and healthcare system requirements. More information on how to complete these requirements will be provided upon acceptance. If you are refused access to clinical experiences because of a positive criminal background check or drug screen, you will be unable to complete the clinical component of the course. Inability to complete the clinical requirements will result in a failure to progress in the program. Under North Carolina law some people with criminal backgrounds may be eligible for an expunction to remove charges or convictions from their record. If you would like to know whether or not you are eligible, contact Central Piedmont's Single Stop at 704.330.2722, ext. 6435 or email singlestop@cpcc.edu to schedule a legal consultation. To learn more about expunctions, explore the NC Justice Center’s guide.

      Dental Assisting Program Application

      The TEAS test is not required for admission to the dental assisting program.

      Notification letters are typically sent four weeks after the application deadline. Please wait until this time and check your Central Piedmont email for an update before contacting the admissions specialist about your admissions decision.

      Transfer Policies

      • Only coursework for which a grade of “C” or higher was earned may transferred to the dental assisting program. Time limits, as recorded on the dental assisting application, may require repeat of a course or courses.
      • Previously-taken coursework will be evaluated by the transcript evaluator. Dental assisting courses that are not directly transferred by the transcript evaluator may be reviewed for transfer by the program director. Course content and credit hours must be equal to or greater than the required course. You may be asked to clarify course content.
      • The program chair may allow you to complete “Credit by Exam” if previously-taken dental assisting course content and hours are equal to or greater than the required course. 
      • You may be required to audit all or a portion of a course which has been transferred, depending on the date of the completion of the course and your work experience in the topic or skill.
      • Transfer into the program from another dental assisting program is at the discretion of the dental assisting program chair and is dependent on space availability. You must be currently enrolled in a CODA-accredited dental assisting program or have left the program in “good standing” as verified by the program director.
      • The program will award no greater than ten hours of transfer of credit in dental assisting coursework unless special circumstances apply.
    • Locations

      Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm where courses are available using Schedule Builder.

    • Course Delivery Methods

      • Classroom/Lab/Clinical
      • Combined (Classroom/Lab/Clinical and Online)

      Please note that course offerings and availability are subject to change from semester to semester. Always confirm which courses are required to complete this program in the college catalog and confirm course delivery methods using Schedule Builder.

    • Dental Assisting Careers

      As a dental assisting student, you will be challenged to take the three Dental Assisting National Board exams that make up the Certified Dental Assistant credential. The three exams are Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside. Passing all three exams will result in the certification. There is no consequence in terms of progressing in the program if you do not pass any of the exams, and the National Board allows students to retake the exams after a waiting period of a few weeks. 

      Graduates of the dental assisting program will find work in dental offices as well as related specialty areas such as oral and maxillofacial surgery (removal of teeth and correction of facial deformities), orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics (straightening teeth with braces or other appliances), endodontics (root canal treatment), periodontics (treatment of gum problems), prosthodontics (replacement of lost teeth), and pediatric dentistry. Graduates are eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board Examination to gain certification. Experienced dental assistants may be promoted to an office manager or supervisor position or may move into insurance claims processing, teaching, or dental product sales. Visit Central Piedmont’s Career Coach or the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for detailed dental assisting career requirements and opportunities, salary information, and job openings.

    • Costs and Aid

      Central Piedmont provides real-world, affordable, hands-on education and career training. Learn how much it costs to attend Central Piedmont. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

      Dental Assisting Program Costs

      In addition to regular tuition and fees, there are laboratory fees assigned to courses with a lab/clinical component. Additional costs include textbooks, workbooks, medical fees for a physical exam, and drug screening and immunizations.

      This estimate includes the cost of the three certification exams that make up the Certified Dental Assistant credential.

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