Dental assistants cleaning teeth

Dental Assistant Frequently Asked Questions

Dental assistants are responsible for assisting dentists and dental hygienists with patient care as well as providing certain administrative support to the office. The following list of frequently asked questions can help you learn more about the field and help you determine whether dentistry is right for you.

Dental assistants provide quality preventive and corrective dental care under direct supervision of the dentist or dental hygienist. 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
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.

Prior to the start of the course, attend the Dental Assistant Information Session.

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. 

The Dental Assistant program costs $2,999 plus the cost of books, supplies and BLS CPR certification.

A current list of textbook(s) will be provided before the start of the program. Textbook(s) are available for purchase at the College bookstore.

 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
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
 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

Due to the inherent requirements of the profession as a dental assistant, students must possess additional non-academic skills. Psychomotor skills (hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity), visual acuity (normal or corrected vision) sufficient for safe practice of dental assistant duties and communication skills (ability to communicate clearly, both orally and in writing, with patients, doctors and other personnel, and the ability to follow written and verbal directions).

Essential Functions are generally required for all College of DuPage Health Career Programs. If the ability to perform these essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations result in the inability to meet identified student learning outcomes, the student may be at risk of not successfully completing the course and/or program.

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.

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.

You cannot 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.

  • 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.  
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. 

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. 

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.

Contact Information

Continuing Education
Student Resource Center (SRC), Room 1110
(630) 942-2208
Fax: (630) 942-3785

Front Desk Hours
  • Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Office hours may vary due to holidays and staff coverage.