Unitek dental assisting students watch as instructors displays artificial jaw and set of teeth

Dental Assisting Program

Pursue a rewarding career
as a dental assistant

Dental Assistant Program Overview

Dental Assistants work closely with dentists and dental hygienists. They are healthcare professionals and often wear safety glasses, surgical masks, protective clothing, and gloves. This role might be ideal for those who enjoy working with their hands and do not want to sit behind a desk. Dental Assistants provide critical support in the dental office, essentially acting as the dentist’s extra hands.

At Unitek, aspiring Dental Assistants gain the skills they need in as little as 10 months. The dynamic curriculum combines traditional instruction, simulation training, and a supervised externship. Courses cover key aspects of the profession, which include topics like sterilization techniques, medical emergencies, dental X-rays, impressions, and dental instruments.

10 Month Program Icon10 Month Program
Experienced Instructors IconExperienced Instructors
Employment Assistance IconEmployment Assistance

What you need to know

Frequently Asked Questions

Dental Assistants are valuable members of the healthcare team. They increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of first-rate care and perform a variety of tasks. These can range from assisting patients to taking X-rays, record keeping, and scheduling appointments.

Employment of Dental Assistants is expected to steadily increase. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Dental Assisting profession will likely experience a 19 percent growth by 2026. This progression is largely attributed to an increasing demand for preventive dental services, which the large baby-boomer population will need as they continue to age.

The time it takes to become a Dental Assistant depends on the type of training you’d like to pursue. Generally speaking, the length of a Dental Assisting program can range from nine months to a year. Some aspiring Dental Assistants will also be required to pass an exam before they can be considered for employment.

Hourly wages depend on several factors. These might include location, experience, and education. In May 2018, the median annual wage for Dental Assistants was $38,660. According to the BLS, the highest 10 percent earned more than $54,800. The top-earning DAs worked in these industries: government, offices of dentists, and offices of physicians. Most Dental Assistants work full time, while others work evenings or weekends to accommodate busy schedules.

There are quite a few education paths aspiring Dental Assistants can take. Some states require DAs to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. There are also states that do not require Dental Assistants to receive formal training; instead, they acquire the skills they need through on-the-job training. However, many employers will not take the risk of hiring untrained applicants.

The Dental Assistant program at Unitek College can be completed in as little as 10 months. Students will build a strong foundation for their desired career, gaining the skills and experience needed to succeed as a Dental Assistant. The curriculum also includes a supervised externship.

Like most healthcare programs, the fees paid by each student can vary depending on their individual situation. A variety of financial aid options are available to students at Unitek. For more information, please reach out to a friendly admissions representative.

Demand for Dental Assistants

Employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 19 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.2 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ongoing research linking oral health and general health will likely continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services, which will drive dentists to hire more assistants.

Dental Assistant Duties and Responsibilities Include:

  • Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
  • Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
  • Assist with oral surgeries
  • Sterilize dental instruments
  • Hand instruments to dentist during procedures
  • Evacuate oral cavities and keep patient’s mouth dry by using suction hoses and other equipment
  • Make dental impressions
  • Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Take and process dental X-Rays and complete lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
  • Install fixed prosthodontics
  • Maintain Inventory for dental practices
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Work with patients on billing and payment

Dental assistants are allowed to perform the following procedures in some states (including CA):

  • Coronal polishing: Removing soft deposits such as plaque, gives teeth a cleaner appearance.
  • Sealant application: Dental assistants paint a thin, plastic substance over teeth to seal out food particles and acid-producing bacteria to keep teeth from developing cavities.
  • Fluoride application: Fluoride is put directly on the teeth as another anti-cavity measure.
  • Topical anesthetic application: Dental assistants apply topical anesthetic to an area of a patient’s mouth, temporarily numbing the area to help prepare a patient for procedures.

Enrollment Process

To enroll in the Unitek College Dental Assisting Program, a prospective student must complete the following steps:

  • Career planning session and admissions interview
  • Submit proof of high school education or equivalent
  • Entrance assessment test
  • Admissions application
  • Enrollment agreement
  • Financing arrangements and, if applicable, all documents needed to obtain an official award letter for Federal Student Aid

Dental Assisting Campus Locations

Contact any of our campuses to learn more about how to become a Dental Assistant or to enroll in the program.  Your future starts at Unitek College.