Dental Assisting, Associate in Applied Science Degree

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Program Description for Dental Assisting

The dental assistant performs a wide range of tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. Dental assistants help the dentist at chairside and also perform functions such as polishing teeth, taking and developing dental radiographs, mixing materials and sterilizing instruments. Some assistants also manage the office and patient accounts, schedule appointments and purchase supplies.

The dental assistant may seek career opportunities in private dental offices, research, teaching, clinics, hospitals, sales and insurance claims and specialty practices such as orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, endodontics and oral surgery.

Dental students making dental molds.

The program provides a practicum in both local dental offices, the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and the Veterans Affairs Dental Clinic during the second semester.

The program in dental assisting is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. The Commission’s web address is:

Award Options for Dental Assisting

  • Diploma - Dental Assisting
  • Certificate - Dental Assisting Expanded Functions

Dental students making dental molds.

Successful completion of the program entitles graduate to take the National Dental Assistant Certification Examination and the Iowa Dental Assistant Registration Examinations.

Job Outlook for Dental Assisting

Employment of dental assistants is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services.

As dental practices grow, more dental assistants will be needed. In fact, dental assistants are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the 2010-20 projection period. Median annual wages of dental assistants were $33,470 in May 2010. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,680, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $47,090.

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Typical Duties for Dental Assistants

Four-handed dentistry, including identification and utilization of dental equipment, materials and instruments.

  • Business office management

  • Infection control

  • Dental anatomy

  • Radiographic procedures

  • Pharmacology & Emergency procedures

Health Requirements for Dental Assisting Program

Each allied health student must have an insurance plan to cover any injury or illness requiring hospital treatment or surgery. In addition, all students are required to submit evidence of good health through a physical examination and immunization form. Proof of successful completion of a course in CPR (BCIS for health care providers) is also required. These requirements will be due after the student starts the program.