Certificate of Proficiency in Dental Assisting is a 40-credit-hour program that contains extensive classroom, laboratory and clinical instruction and gives the student a broad background in all areas of dentistry. Students develop competence in performing a variety of dental assisting skills and hands-on clinical experience in general and specialty dental practices; clinics are provided throughout the program. After completing the Dental Assisting program, graduates take the Dental Assistant National Board examination to become a Certified Dental Assistant. This certification is the only dental assistant certification recognized by the Missouri Dental Board.
The Dental Assisting program is accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation. Strict accreditation requirements assure a comprehensive education that is based on the latest procedures and techniques. Students become proficient in a variety of dental assisting skills by gaining clinical experience in general and specialty dental offices and clinics throughout the community.
In addition, the program includes courses that teach expanded functions for dental assistants as recently approved by the Missouri Dental Board. These courses provide training in advanced procedures that can only be performed by dental assistants in Missouri who have demonstrated proficiency through education and certification. Competency in one or more expanded functions enlarges the skill mix of the assistant, increases the responsibilities of the assistant and enhances the value of the assistant to the dental health care team. Graduates will be certified to perform these functions and can assume expanded roles on the dental health care team as delegated by their employer. After completing the program, students are eligible to take the national board examination to become Certified Dental Assistants.
The duties of a dental assistant are among the most comprehensive and varied in the dental office. The dental assistant performs many tasks requiring both interpersonal and technical skills. The duties of a dental assistant include preparing patients for treatment, maintaining and updating treatment records, assisting the dentist during a variety of dental procedures, taking and developing dental X-rays, developing infection control protocol; preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment; providing direct patient care in both general and specialty dental procedures; providing oral care instruction following dental treatment; performing office management tasks; and a variety of laboratory procedures related to dental treatment.
Persons interested in dental assisting should possess:
- High school diploma or GED
- A minimum 2.25 cumulative GPA in prior college courses OR
- Reading proficiency of 77 or higher on the Accuplacer Placement Test OR
- Minimum ACT composite score of 21 or SAT verbal score of 500