Dental Assisting

Dental Assisting Program

Dental Assisting Training

A dental assistant performs several functions in a dental office, but the primary duty is to assist the dentist during chairside procedures. Other duties include taking and processing x-rays, preparing dental instruments for patient treatment, sterilizing and disinfecting instruments, and instructing patients on oral hygiene and care.

Laboratory duties an assistant may do include making temporary crowns, dentures, bridges, or other products, while office functions consist of scheduling appointments, receiving patients, processing payments and bills, and ordering supplies.

Dental Assistant Diploma

Program Length

8 Months

Campus Options

Centura College, Norfolk, VA
Centura College, Richmond, VA

Dental Assisting Diploma Courses

Career Paths:

Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Registered Dental Assistant, Dental Assistant (DA), Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA), Expanded Function Dental Assistant, Oral Surgery Assistant, Orthodontic Assistant (Ortho Assistant), Orthodontic Technician, Registered Dental Assistant (RDA), Surgical Dental Assistant

A career as a dental assistant can be rewarding since the dentist, as well as the patient, depend on the assistant for office efficiency and chairside procedures. Because they carry many responsibilities, dentists look for an assistant that is reliable, friendly, mature, and can communicate well with patients. Many times, a patient may feel nervous about certain procedures, so the assistant’s duty would be to help them feel comfortable and ease any concerns they may have.

An assistant should have manual dexterity in performing certain tasks. One example is taking patient x-rays. The technician must be able to bend the film and insert it in the patient’s mouth with the minimum amount of discomfort. They must then aim the camera for the highest quality picture. The dentist will use this x-ray to examine for cavities and periodontal diseases between the teeth, so image quality is important.

Many assistants learn through on the job training, but advancement opportunities are not as good as those that have formal college training. With formal training, assistants may handle advanced clinical, laboratory, and administrative duties, and have more responsibilities assigned to them.

Some assistants use their college training and experience as a stepping-stone to advance to dental hygienist or Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). This career change requires that they go back to school and seek licensing. Others may choose to specialize as a dental laboratory technician, which has its own specialized training. In most situations, though, assistants with prior formal training will be more familiar with the dental techniques and procedures they must learn in order to advance their career or specialize in a field.