Dental Assistant Program Overview
Dental Assistants work closely with dentists and dental hygienists. This role is ideal for those who enjoy working with their hands while caring for patients. 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. Our dynamic curriculum now combines virtual instruction with 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.
What you need to know
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Dental Assistant?
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.
Are Dental Assistants in high demand?
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.
How long does it take to become a Dental Assistant?
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.
At Unitek College, we currently offer online classes to protect our students and staff during the pandemic.
Click here to read our DA registration disclosure.
How much does a Dental Assistant make an hour?
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.
What education is needed to become a Dental Assistant?
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.
How long is the Dental Assisting program?
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.
How much is the Dental Assisting program?
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.
Will my tuition fees change now the Dental Assisting program is online?
The cost of the Dental Assisting program will remain the same. However, if you are having difficulty making your in-school payments, we are more than willing to work with you. You will receive all your instruction and clinical hours as agreed upon in your enrollment agreement.
The academic teams are revising academic program schedules to re-incorporate the required hours for clinical, lab, and hands-on instruction. You will receive 100% of these required hours. By rearranging the academic calendar, we are making every effort for you to continue your education with as little impact on your graduation date as possible.
When can I perform my lab work and clinical externship?
These elements of our program will be scheduled once it is safe to return to campus.
How will I take exams?
Quizzes and exams will be conducted entirely online. We are also working with vendors to provide remote proctoring.
How will my VA benefits be impacted by transitioning to online classes?
Emergency Legislation passed on 3/18/2020 allows veterans to maintain the same level of funding despite our online delivery. Financial Aid representatives will be sending more information to our veterans via an alert.
What certifications are related to the Dental Assisting program?
Students who graduate from the program will receive from Unitek College certificates in Infection Control, Dental Practice Act, HIPAA, Radiology, Coronal Polishing, and Pit & Fissure Sealants. These certificates are not required for initial employment, but may be of value depending on a student’s particular career goals. Students who do not graduate from the program are ineligible to receive any of these certificates.
Graduates of the program may also be eligible to take various professional certification exams, including the California Registered Dental Assisting (RDA) exam and the Dental Assisting national Board (DANB) exam. Such credentials are not required to graduate or to gain initial employment, but may be of value depending on a student’s particular career goals. Faculty are available to advise students seeking to take such professional certification exams.
Demand for Dental Assistants
Employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is 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.
The enrollment process at Unitek College can be completed entirely online. 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