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AWARD OFFERED Certificate and Associate in Applied Science Degree
Admission Requirements and Curriculum
A dental assistant helps with the direct care of patients under the supervision of a dentist.
Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They work chairside as dentists examine and treat patients. They make patients as comfortable as possible in the dental chair, prepare them for treatment, and obtain their dental records. Assistants hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients’ mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices. Assistants also sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare trays of instruments for dental procedures, and instruct patients on post-operative and general oral health care.
Some dental assistants prepare materials for impressions and restorations, take dental x-rays, and process x-ray film as directed by a dentist. They also may remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place rubber dams on the teeth to isolate them for individual treatment.
Those with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Dental assistants with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies and materials. Upon successful completion of the Wallace State program, graduates will be prepared to function as Dental Assistants in dental offices, hospitals and clinics.
Job prospects for dental assistants should be excellent. Dentists are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures making Dental Assisting one of the fastest growing occupations over the 2004-2014 projection period.
Median hourly earnings of dental assistants were $16.09 in May 2010, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $22.19 an hour. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
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Barbara Ebert, CDA, RDH, MA, Program Director