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Dental Assisting Programs
The Dental Assisting accredited program prepares students for employment in a variety of positions in today’s dental offices. The Dental Assisting program provides learning opportunities which introduce, develop, and reinforce academic and occupational knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for job acquisition, retention, and advancement. Additionally, the program provides opportunities to upgrade present knowledge and skills or to retrain in the area of dental assisting.
Dental Assisting Program Information
New students must complete the New Student Orientation and meet with the program director before registering for classes. Currently students are being accepted into the Dental Assisting program to take their prerequisite courses for Fall Semester 2013.
Students must have a minimum of a “C” in each of the following pre-requisite courses prior to beginning dental assisting occupational classes: ALHS 1040, ENGL 1010, MATH 1012, PSYC 1010, and COMP 1000.
All dental assisting students are accepted into the Dental Assisting program to begin their pre-requisite classes. Lanier Technical College uses a first-come, first serve process to admit 21 students into dental assisting occupational courses each fall. All perspective students must attend a 45 minute laboratory observation on campus before gaining acceptance into dental assisting occupational classes. Students should sign-up for an observation time on the observation sign-up sheet which is located outside of the Dental Assisting classroom (room 372). Following the observation period students must complete a dental assisting occupational application form. The application for dental assisting occupational classes may be submitted once a student is one semester away from being pre-requisite complete. To submit an application for occupational courses the student must complete the application that they receive from the dental assisting program director on the day that he or she attends the laboratory observation. Once the form is completed the student will e-mail or fax the form to the program director.
Occupational applications are placed in the order in which they are received. Each application is saved by date and time. Students should keep a copy of their submission that shows the date and time of the submission in case the program director does not receive the document. All students will receive an additional document 3 months prior to the start of the dental assisting program. This document will confirm that the student is still interested in the Dental Assisting program. Students who do not send back the form will be taken off of the list. Students should contact the Dental Assisting program director if they do not receive a correspondence from the program director 3 months prior to the start of fall semester. Students must be pre-requisite complete and observe in the dental assisting laboratory for 45 minutes before gaining acceptance into dental assisting occupational classes.
Students are admitted into the Dental Assisting program to take their prerequisite classes prior to beginning dental assisting occupational classes. Students must earn a minimum of a “C” in each of the following pre-requisite courses prior to beginning dental assisting classes: ALHS 1040, ENGL 1010, MATH 1012, PSYC 1010, and COMP 1000. The first-come, first-serve policy is based on the placement of the student’s name on the waiting list. Following the first semester of enrollment students are permitted to sign up for a returning student advisement/registration time. The returning student registration sheets are posted outside of the Dental Assisting classroom (room 372) approximately 4 weeks prior to returning student registration and are maintained by the Dental Assisting Program Director, Liza Charlton. Students who fail to meet with their advisor each semester may lose their place on the waiting list.
Change of Program Students
Students who change from another Lanier Tech program to the Dental Assisting program are permitted to sign up for a returning student registration time once they are accepted into the Dental Assisting program. These students are considered to be new to the Dental Assisting program and therefore are required to begin their first-come, first-serve period along with the new students entering the program. The first-come, first-serve policy is based on the placement of the student’s name on the waiting list. Students must sign up for an advisement/registration time before registering for classes. Returning student registration sheets are posted outside of the Dental Assisting classroom (room 372) approximately 4 weeks prior to returning student registration and are maintained by the Dental Assisting Program Director, Liza Charlton. Students who fail to meet with their advisor each semester may lose their place on the waiting list.
Transfer students that would like their previous college credits considered for review must submit the proper paperwork. Please complete the "Request for Transfer Credit" form and return it to the Registrar's Office with your official transcripts. If you have any questions concerning this form please contact the Registrar's Office at 770.531.6335. Transfer students are permitted to sign up for a returning student registration time once they are accepted in to the Dental Assisting program. The first-come, first-serve policy is based on the placement of the student’s name on the waiting list. Students must sign up for an advisement/registration time before registering for classes. Returning student registration sheets are posted outside of the Dental Assisting classroom (room 372) approximately 4 weeks prior to returning student registration and are maintained by the Dental Assisting Program Director, Liza Charlton. Students who fail to meet with their advisor each semester may lose their place on the waiting list.
Dental Assisting Diploma
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a graduate work as a dental assistant in an orthodontic office when they finish the program?
Yes, some orthodontic offices will hire graduates upon completion of the program.
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Job prospects should be excellent.
Dentists are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks so dentists may devote their time to more complex procedures.
Many assistants learn their skills on the job, although an increasing number are trained in dental-assisting programs; most programs take 1 year or less to complete.
More than one-third of dental assistants worked part time in 2008.
Phone: (770) 531-6370
Nature of the Work
perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare and lay out the instruments and materials required to treat each patient, and obtain and update patients' dental records. Assistants make patients comfortable in the dental chair and prepare them for treatment. During dental procedures, assistants work alongside the dentist to provide assistance. They hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients' mouths dry and clear by using suction hoses or other devices. They also instruct patients on postoperative and general oral healthcare.
Dental assistants may prepare materials for impressions and restorations, and process dental x rays 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 dental dams to isolate teeth for treatment. Many States are expanding dental assistants' duties to include tasks such as coronal polishing and restorative dentistry functions for those assistants who meet specific training and experience requirements.
Dental assistants with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Those with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies and materials.
Dental assistants must work closely with, and under the supervision of, dentists. Additionally, dental assistants should not be confused with dental hygienists, who are licensed to perform a different set of clinical tasks.
Dental assistants work in a well-lighted, clean environment. Their work area is usually near the dental chair so that they can arrange instruments, materials, and medication and hand them to the dentist when needed. Dental assistants must wear gloves, masks, eyewear, and protective clothing to protect themselves and their patients from infectious diseases. Assistants also follow safety procedures to minimize the risks associated with the use of x-ray machines.
Almost half of dental assistants had a 35- to 40-hour workweek in 2008. More than one-third worked part time, or less than 35 hours per week, and many others have variable schedules. Depending on the hours of the dental office where they work, assistants may have to work on Saturdays or evenings. Some dental assistants hold multiple jobs by working at dental offices that are open on different days or by scheduling their work at a second office around the hours they work at their primary office.
Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement
Many assistants learn their skills on the job, although an increasing number are trained in dental-assisting programs offered by community and junior colleges, trade schools, technical institutes, or the Armed Forces. Most programs take 1 year to complete. For assistants to perform more advanced functions, or to have the ability to complete radiological procedures, many States require assistants to obtain a license or certification.
In most States, there is no formal education or training requirements to become an entry-level dental assistant. High school students interested in a career as a dental assistant should take courses in biology, chemistry, health, and office practices. For those wishing to pursue further education, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) approved 281 dental-assisting training programs in 2009. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and preclinical instruction in dental-assisting skills and related theory. Most programs take close to 1 year to complete and lead to a certificate or diploma. Two-year programs offered in community and junior colleges lead to an associate degree. All programs require a high school diploma or its equivalent, and some require science or computer-related courses for admission. A number of private vocational schools offer 4- to 6-month courses in dental assisting, but the Commission on Dental Accreditation does not accredit these programs. A large number of dental assistants learn through on-the-job training. In these situations, the employing dentist or other dental assistants in the dental office teach the new assistant dental terminology, the names of the instruments, how to perform daily duties, how to interact with patients, and other things necessary to help keep the dental office running smoothly. While some things can be picked up easily, it may be a few months before new dental assistants are completely knowledgeable about their duties and comfortable doing all their tasks without assistance.
A period of on-the-job training is often required even for those who have completed a dental-assisting program or have some previous experience. Different dentists may have their own styles of doing things that need to be learned before an assistant can be comfortable working with them. Office-specific information, such as where files and instruments are kept, will need to be learned at each new job. Also, as dental technology changes, dental assistants need to stay familiar with the instruments and procedures that they will be using or helping dentists to use. On-the-job training may be sufficient to keep assistants up-to-date on these matters.
Dental assistants must be a second pair of hands for a dentist; therefore, dentists look for people who are reliable, work well with others, and have good manual dexterity.
Certification and advancement.
Without further education, advancement opportunities are limited. Some dental assistants become office managers, dental-assisting instructors, dental product sales representatives, or insurance claims processors for dental insurance companies. Others go back to school to become dental hygienists. For many, this entry-level occupation provides basic training and experience and serves as a steppingstone to more highly skilled and higher paying jobs. Assistants wishing to take on expanded functions or perform radiological procedures may choose to complete coursework in those functions allowed under State regulation or, if required, obtain a State-issued license.
Employment is expected to increase much faster than average; job prospects are expected to be excellent.
Employment is expected to grow 36 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, dental assistants are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 projection period. Population growth, greater retention of natural teeth by middle-aged and older people, and an increased focus on preventative dental care for younger generations will fuel demand for dental services. Older dentists, who have been less likely to employ assistants or have employed fewer, are leaving the occupation and will be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to use one or more assistants. In addition, as dentists' workloads increase, they are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks, so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures.
Job prospects should be excellent, as dentists continue to need the aid of qualified dental assistants. There will be many opportunities for entry-level positions, but some dentists prefer to hire experienced assistants, those who have completed a dental-assisting program, or have met State requirements to take on expanded functions within the office.
In addition to job openings due to employment growth, some job openings will arise out of the need to replace assistants who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave for other reasons.
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2990 Landrum Education Drive, Oakwood, Georgia 30566
Phone: 770-531-6300 | Fax: 770-531-6328
A Unit of the Technical College System of Georgia
An Equal Opportunity Institution.