Associate's Degree Programs in Dental Assisting

Dental assistants handle a variety of tasks in a dentist office, ranging from general patient care to administrative and billing duties. Learn about the courses in an associate's degree program in dental assisting, and find out the requirements to earn certification. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What's an Associate's Degree in Dental Assisting?

Programs leading to an Associate of Science in Dental Assisting are often available at community colleges and vocational schools. These programs are usually two years in length and include classroom-based courses, clinical practicums and an internship. Due to the hands-on nature of the dental assisting profession, programs are primarily campus-based.

You'll take general education classes, such as psychology, English and math, in addition to core courses in dental terminology, dental radiography, medical record keeping and chair-side assistance. In hands-on clinical labs, you'll gain experience in equipment sterilization, X-ray film processing and tooth polishing techniques.

An associate's degree is not always a requirement in order to find work as a dental assistant. In many cases, aspiring assistants only need a high school diploma and can acquire the necessary skills on the job. However, job applicants who have some postsecondary training may have more employment opportunities than those who only have a high school-level education.

Degree Overview 2-year programs, available at community colleges and vocational schools
Common Courses Dental terminology, equipment sterilization, dental radiography, X-ray film processing, medical record keeping
Certification Some states require certification
Job Duties Obtaining patient information, cleaning teeth, taking x-rays, performing administrative duties, processing insurance claims

Do I Need Certification?

In some states, you'll need to obtain licensure before you can take X-rays. Licensure requirements may include completion of the Radiation Health & Safety exam offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) or a state-administered test. You may need to earn DANB's Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential in order to perform extended dental functions in some states. You can take the CDA exam if you hold current CPR certification and have completed a program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. Certification applicants who hold only a high school diploma must have at least 3,500 hours of work experience as dental assistants.

What Do Professionals In This Field Do?

As a dental assistant, you might obtain patient information, clean patients' teeth, perform administrative duties and take X-rays. Additional responsibilities could include making impressions of patients' teeth, processing insurance claims or ordering both office and medical supplies. Dental assistants may work on a full- or part-time basis; almost all assistants are employed by private dental offices.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

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  • Herzing University

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  • University of Maine at Augusta

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    • Maine: Augusta
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks

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    • Alaska: Fairbanks
  • University of Alaska Anchorage

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    • Alaska: Anchorage
  • Truckee Meadows Community College

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    • Nevada: Reno
  • Wichita Area Technical College

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    • Kansas: Wichita
  • Stark State College

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    • Ohio: North Canton
  • St Cloud Technical and Community College

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    • Minnesota: Saint Cloud
  • Spokane Community College

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    • Washington: Spokane