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Clinical Dental Assistant

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Prepare for the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Exam

Dental assistants play a valuable role in any dental care team, often handling a variety of tasks from assisting with treatment procedures to administrative duties. This 100% online course will help you gain the technical skills you need to join a dental office as a clinical dental assistant. Upon successful completion of this course, you will receive vouchers to sit for the Anatomy, Morphology, and Physiology (AMP), Infection Control (ICE), and Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) portions of the Dental Assisting National Board examinations.

Job Outlook for Clinical Dental Assistants

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a clinical dental assistant is currently just over $40,000 per year. 

Employment is projected to grow by 11% through 2030, which is considered much faster than average. Ongoing research linking good dental health with good overall health is driving this growth as demand for preventative services continues to increase.


Clinical Dental Assistant FAQs

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  • Clinical dental assistant jobs vary based on the dental office and the state your work in. Typical duties include preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing tools, instructing on proper dental hygiene, passing instruments to the dentist during procedures, keeping records of treatments, scheduling appointments and processing x-rays.

  • Most clinical dental assistant training programs can be completed in one year or less. This does not include the time you will spend working in an externship or similar position to gain experience in the field. It also does not include the required two years of work experience you will need to become certified.

  • To become a Certified Dental Assistant, you will need to pass the three components of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certification Exam and meet the Board’s work experience requirements. You will need to pass the Radiation Health and Safety, Infection Control, and General Chairside components of the DANB Certification Exam as well as complete at least two years of work experience (or a minimum of 3,500 hours accrued over a two to four year period).

  • Most dental assistants work a full-time schedule of 40 hours per week, however there are some dental assistants that work part-time. Many of the hours will be worked during the day, but depending on your dental office, you may be asked to work some evenings or weekends.

  • Almost all clinical dental assistants work in dental offices under the supervision of dentists, though some may find employment with the government or in physicians’ offices. Dental assistants work very closely with dental hygienists. In this position, you will be on your feet for large portions of the day and wear surgical masks, safety goggles, gloves, and protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

  • No, a dental assistant and a dental hygienist are not the same. A dental assistant directly supports a dentist with small, supervised jobs performed on patients’ teeth and administrative tasks in the office. A dental hygienist will work one-on-one with patients with less supervision. A dental assistant can practice after earning a dental assistant training certificate while a dental hygienist must obtain an associate degree in dental hygiene at minimum.

Course Objectives

  • Real-world perspectives from experienced dental assistants
  • Essential information about anatomy and physiology, preventive dentistry, patient care, and communication, radiology, pharmacology, anesthesia, assisting in specialty practices, employment strategies, and much more
  • Explore the basics of maintaining computerized clinical dental records using Dentrix Practice Management software

Prerequisites and Requirements

There are no prerequisites to complete this course. However, candidates must have a high school diploma or equivalent to sit for national certification exams.

  • I.    The Dental Profession
    II.    Communication Skills
    III.    Ethics for the Dental Assistant
    IV.    Basic Dental Sciences
    V.    Dental Anatomy
    VI.    Oral Pathology
    VII.    Infection Control
    VIII.    Hazardous Materials
    IX.    Caring for Exceptional Patients
    X.    Pharmacology for the Dental Assistant
    XI.    Emergency Management
    XII.    Oral Health and Nutrition
    XIII.    The Dental Office
    XIV.    Dental Instruments
    XV.    Introduction to Chairside Assisting
    XVI.    New Patients and Charting
    XVII.    Introduction to Dentrix Learning Software (Optional)
    XVIII.    Anesthesia and Sedation
    XIX.    Preventative Care
    XX.    Radiation Health Safety
    XXI.    Extraoral and Digital Radiology 
    XXII.    Dental Emergency Procedures and Amalgam Restorations 
    XXIII.    Composite Procedures and Laboratory Materials 
    XXIV.    Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics 
    XXV.    Dental Specialties 
    XXVI.    Dental Implants and Fixed Prosthetics 
    XXVII.    Computerized Restorative Systems and Removable Prosthodontics 
    XXVIII.    Cosmetic Dentistry 
    XXIX.    Dental Practice Management 
    XXX.    Your Dental Career


Cindy Lamkin

Cindy Lamkin has been employed in the dental field for over 20 years. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in dental hygiene and holds Registered Dental Assistant and Registered Dental Hygienist credentials. In addition to practicing clinical hygiene, she has also worked in dental office administration and treatment coordination. Her career includes general dentistry, as well as specialty practices of periodontics, endodontics, pedodontics, and orthodontics.


Registration and Enrollment

This course is 100% online.

Start any time with 6 months to complete.