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

Dental Assisting

Pursue a rewarding career
as a dental assistant

If you are detail oriented, have good interpersonal skills, and enjoy working with your hands, Dental Assisting might be for you. Dental assistants play a vital role in the dental office, supporting dentists as they examine and treat patients. Dental assistants are in effect the dentist’s extra hands.

Unitek College Dental Assisting Program

The Unitek College Dental Assisting program provides a strong foundation in the skills and experience needed to succeed as a Dental Assistant. Courses cover all aspects of dental assisting, including infection control and sterilization techniques, handling medical emergencies, taking dental X-rays, making impressions, and the use of dental instruments. Topics also include oral evacuation, fixed prosthodontics, pharmacology and pain control, preventative dentistry, assisting with oral surgery, and tray setups. The curriculum combines in-class instruction, hands-on skills lab and 200 hours of supervised externship. The Dental Assisting program at Unitek College is approved by the Dental Board of California for Registered Dental Assistant Applicants.

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.

Benefits of Graduating from an RDA-Approved Dental Assisting Program

It is not necessary to be a Registered Dental Assistant to be employed as a Dental Assistant in California. Registered Dental Assistants, however, are permitted to carry out additional direct patient procedures, which allows the dentist to see more patients per day and improves the production of their dental practice. Graduates of an RDA-Approved Dental Assisting Program have the fastest route to meeting the requirements for taking the licensure exam

To Qualify for Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) examination in California, you must meet one of the requirements below:1

  1. Graduate from a Board-approved RDA educational program of a minimum of 800 hours (approximately 8 months); or
  2. Complete at least 15 months of satisfactory (1,280 hours) paid work experience as a dental assistant with a dentist licensed in one of the states in the United States; or
  3. Complete a California Department of Education approved 4-month educational program, and 11 months of work experience with a dentist(s) licensed in one of the states of the United States.

Foreign education and/or experience are not accepted.

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

The Dental Assisting Program is available at:

Federal Disclosures