Dental Assistant Frequetly Asked Questions
What is a dental assistant?
Dental assistants provide quality preventive and corrective dental care under direct supervision of the dentist or dental hygienist.
What does a dental assistant do?
The dental assistant is responsible for assisting dentists and dental hygienists with patient care as well as providing certain administrative support to the office. Dental assistants perform many tasks, ranging from providing patient care and taking x rays to recordkeeping and scheduling appointments.
Dental assistants typically do the following:
- Ensure that patients are comfortable in the dental chair
- Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
- Sterilize dental instruments
- Help dentists by handing them instruments during procedures
- Keep patients’ mouths dry by using suction hoses and other equipment
- Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
- Process x-rays and complete lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
- Keep records of dental treatments and schedule patient appointments
- Work with patients on billing and payment
Where do dental assistants work?
Almost all dental assistants work in dentists’ offices. There are specialty clinics where dental assistants can specialize in areas such as pediatrics, orthodontics or oral surgery. Most dental assistants work full-time but there are part-time employment options. Some evening and weekend hours may be required, depending on the practice.
Are there specific requirements for the program?
Attend the Dental Assistant Information Session prior to the start of the course.
How do I get started?
Enroll in the Dental Assistant program by visiting the Continuing Education office on the main campus in Glen Ellyn. The campus is located at 425 Fawell Ave. and the office is in the Student Resource Center (SRC), Suite 1110. Visit the Registration Desk when you arrive.
How much does the program cost?
The Dental Assistant program costs $2,999 plus the cost of books, supplies and BLS CPR certification.
What books do I need to purchase?
Modern Dental Assisting - Textbook and Workbook, 11e 11th Edition by Doni L. Bird CDA RDA RDH MA (Author), Debbie S. Robinson CDA MS (Author)
- Textbook and Workbook Package, ISBN-13: 978-0323225885 Approx. $150
- Textbook, ISBN-13: 978-1455774517 Approx. $125 AND Student Workbook, ISBN-13: 978-1455774548 Approx. $50
What is the supply list?
All supplies, with the exception of shoes, are available for purchase from the COD Bookstore.
- Notebook paper, index cards, highlighter, pocket journal, 3-ring binder
- Four-colored click pen
- Clean (white) shoes dedicated to the Dental Assisting Program-minimal neon stripes/color
- Medical Scrubs - scrubs are to be worn on clinic days and externships
- Medical Scrub Jacket - Button/snap at the neck area & sleeve cuffs fitted at the wrist.
- Safety glasses with side shields
What do I need for the BLS CPR Certification?
Students need to have the BLS (Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers) CPR certification within the first three weeks of the term by sending a copy of the certification card to email@example.com.
What is the commitment for the program?
240 Contact Hours
- 120 hours of didactic
- Classroom/lab - Held at COD, Attendance Policy, Midterm & Final Exam
- 30 hours online - Completed using Blackboard
- 120 hours of externship
- 7 weeks to complete/approx.18 hours a week - Placement provided by COD, Expectations,
Attendance Policy, Resume, BLS CPR certification
- 7 weeks to complete/approx.18 hours a week - Placement provided by COD, Expectations, Attendance Policy, Resume, BLS CPR certification
What are the aptitudes, qualities and physical demands needed to be successful?
High school diploma or GED required, 18 years of age and English proficiency.
Functional abilities for Veterinary Assistants include:
- Psychomotor skills (hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity) and visual acuity (normal or corrected vision) sufficient for safe practice of dental assistant duties.
- Drug testing and a criminal background check may be required for employment.
Does everyone go on the externship?
Students who successfully complete the externship requirements, including the BLS CPR certification and a completed resume, and receive at least a 75% in the course prior to the start of the externship experience will get placed.
Do I need to find my own externship site?
The college will provide students with a list of potential externship sites for students to rank. Students can review sites based on specialty, location, hours, size of office, etc. The college will place a student at one of their preferred locations, provided a student successfully interviews with the site.
I work at a clinic, can I do my externship there?
No, you may not complete your externship at your place of employment. You will be assigned to a clinic and you must complete your clinical hours at this clinic in order to pass the course.
What do I need to know for clinic days/externship days?
- Hair to be worn back or up
- No visible tattoos
- No piercings other than in ears
- No strong perfumes or cigarette smell on clothes
- Short clean nail. Clear or light colored polish – without chips - is allowed.
What if I received accommodations in high school?
Students seeking accommodations will need to self-identify with the college by scheduling an appointment with the Center for Access and Accommodations and providing appropriate documentation of the disability. Documentation may include a diagnosis of disability, academic history, intellectual assessment and recommendations for accommodations and appointments are made to assess needs, explain services and give guidance through the COD process. Students will receive a “blue card” and will inform their instructor on the first night of class of their accommodations. Please schedule your appointment as soon as possible with the Center for Access and Accommodations as their schedule is filled quickly during peak times. You can reach them at (630) 942-2154.
How much does a dental assistant earn?
The job outlook for dental assistants is excellent. Employment in this field is expected to grow 25% by 2022. Salaries will vary depending on hours, certification, experience and location, but may range between $23,540 and $47,850.
Is there job placement?
We do not have a formal job placement program; however, we do receive job opening notices from local employers interested in hiring our graduates and we pass that along to students who have completed the course. Also, students are occasionally hired at the location where they completed their externship experience.
Who can I contact for more information?
For more information, call Continuing Education at (630) 942-2208, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Continuing Education
To register or for detailed program information, call Continuing Education at (630) 942-2208 or email CE@cod.edu. You may also register online. To view our complete program listing, see the Fall 2018 Continuing Education Schedule of Classes.
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1110, (630) 942-2208
Fax: (630) 942-3785
Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed Saturday and Sunday
College of DuPage
425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137
(630) 942-2800 (Main)
(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)
2018 College of DuPage