Dental Assisting

Dr. Sharon Alley, Program Director

256.352.8025

sharon.alley@wallacestate.edu

Associate in Applied Science Degree (4 Semesters)

Certificate (3 Semesters)

At a Glance

A dental assistant helps with the direct care of patients under the supervision of a dentist. Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They work chair side as dentists examine and treat patients. They make patients as comfortable as possible in the dental chair, prepare them for treatment, and obtain their dental records. Assistants hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients’ mouths dry and clear by using suction or other devices. Assistants also sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare trays of instruments for dental procedures, take impressions and radiographs and instruct patients on post-operative and general oral health care.

Program Description

Upon successful completion of this program, graduates will be prepared to function as Dental Assistants in dental offices, hospitals, and clinics. The Dental Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of approval without reporting requirements. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312) 440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Graduates are qualified to take the National Certification Examination administered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. Students may elect to complete the certificate program in three semesters or the Associate Degree program in four semesters. 

Admission Requirements

  1. Unconditional admission to the college – College application must be submitted by the program application deadline of June 1.
  2. Student must be in good standing with the college.
  3. Receipt of complete program applications accepted between March 1 and June 1 for Fall entry. Applications received after the deadline will be considered on a space available basis. 
  4. The online application is located at www.wallacestate.edu. Online application instructions are under the Program Application tab. Upon completion of the online application, all applicants are required to submit a General Education Worksheet with all necessary documentation attached. The General Education Worksheet, along with full instructions, can be found in Online Application Instructions. 
  5. Official transcripts from each college attended must be provided to the Admissions Office and all unofficial transcripts must be attached to the program application General Education Worksheet.
  6. Student must meet the essential functions and technical standards required for the program as documented on the required WSCC physical form at www.wallacestate.edu-see Physical Form Essential Functions. 
  7. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age (Alabama Regulations for Control of Radiation Rule 420-3-03 (6), "Occupational Radiation Dose Limits," states that all occupational workers employing ionizing radiation, must be at least 18 years of age).
  8. A minimum of 16 ACT composite score (National or Residual) is required for admission consideration. Proof of score must be submitted with the application General Education Worksheet.
  9. Be eligible for ENG 101 according to college requirements. Please refer to General Admission section of catalog or check with your advisor.
  10. Possess a 2.3 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Selection and Notification

  1. The Dental Assisting Program admits annually each fall semester a maximum of 24 students.
  2. Students are selected on the basis of satisfactory completion of admission requirements, ACT score and GPA.
  3. Program applications will be reviewed for completion of program admission requirements. Written notification of program acceptance status will be sent to each applicant via information supplied on the program application. 
  4. Following acceptance into the program, students must respond confirming their intent to enroll by using the internet link provided on their letter, by the deadline indicated on the letter. A student who fails to respond will forfeit his/her place in the class
  5. Students accepted must attend a mandatory orientation session. Failure to do so could result in forfeiture of their place in the class.
  6. Due to the number of major required courses taken each semester, it is recommended that students complete as many general required courses as possible before entering the dental assisting program.

Program Expectations

Students admitted into the Dental Assisting program are expected to comply with the Health Science Program Regulations and Expectations as published in the Programs of Study section of the Wallace State College Catalog.

Upon Admission

  1. Upon acceptance into the program students will be required to submit a physical examination form (current within one year), which includes documentation of immunizations along with evidence of having begun the Hepatitis B vaccinations.
  2. Upon acceptance into the program, students are required to submit proof of CPR certification. Only CPR designed to certify health care professionals is accepted. Current CPR certification must be maintained throughout the program. 
  3. While enrolled in the program, students are required to have accident and liability insurance, available through the College.
  4. Students are required to undergo background screening and drug testing and provide a clear result according to Health Science Division policy.
  5. Students are required to have health insurance while enrolled in the program.

Progression

  1. Students must attain a “C” in general and major required courses. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the program.
  2. Students are required to complete the program within two (2) years of entry into the program.
  3. Students who withdraw or are dismissed from the program must apply for readmission. Students will be readmitted one time only. 

Career Path

The Dental Assisting curriculum prepares students to assist in dental offices. Other career opportunities include employment in public health clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, teaching, research and dental office management. Job prospects for dental assistants should be excellent. Dentists are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures making Dental Assisting one of the fastest-growing occupations over the 2019-2029-projection period. Median hourly earnings of dental assistants were $41,180 or $19.80 per hour in May 2020, with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $28,940 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $58,390. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics) 

Upon completion of the dental assisting program, students may elect to apply for admission into the dental hygiene program. The dental assisting courses will be accepted for transfer to many colleges and universities for those interested in obtaining a Bachelors’ Degree. 

*If planning to apply for Dental Hygiene, MTH 100 is recommended instead of MTH 116.

NOTE: The Guided Pathways Curricular Maps contain all the elements required for degree/certificate completion. However, courses may be offered or taken in other semesters so long as prerequisites are met. Additional options for elective courses are available. Please see DegreeWorks for allowable substitutions. Courses may be available days, nights, hybrid, and online. Sample maps for part-time attendance may also be available. Please see an advisor.

Degrees and Certificates

Classes

DAT 100 : Introduction to Dental Assisting

This course is designed to provide an introduction to the field of dentistry. Topics include history of dentistry, dental equipment, dental auxiliaries, psychology as it applies to dentistry, professional organizations, certification requirements, legal and ethical considerations, work ethics, and communication skills. Emphasis is placed on the Alabama Dental Practice Act and OSHA Standards. Upon completion, students should be able to discuss basic aspects of dentistry. CORE

Credits

2

Prerequisites

As required by program

DAT 101 : Pre-Clinical Procedures I

This course is designed to introduce chair side assisting techniques including concepts of fourhanded dentistry, sterilization techniques, dental instruments, anesthesia, and operative dentistry. Emphasis will be placed on preparation of the student for clinical dental assisting. Upon completion, the student should be able to perform dental assisting skills in a clinical setting. CORE

Credits

3

Prerequisites

As required by program

DAT 102 : Dental Materials

This course is designed to study the characteristics, manipulation, and application of dental materials ordinarily used in the dental office. Students will be given intra and extra oral technical tasks to perform. Upon completion, students should be able to take and pour preliminary impressions, trim study models, construct custom trays and temporary crowns, prepare and place restorative material, and manipulate cements and impression materials.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

As required by program

DAT 103 : Dental Anatomy and Physiology

This course is designed to study dental anatomy and the structure of the head and neck with a basic understanding of body structure and function. Emphasis will be placed on tooth and root morphology, and embryological and histological correlations will provide a foundation essential to an understanding of dental health. Upon completion, students should be able to discuss and identify the basic structure and function of the human body specifically the head, neck, and dentition. CORE

Credits

3

DAT 104 : Basic Sciences for Dental Assisting

This course is designed to study basic microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and medical emergencies. Emphasis is placed on the correlation of these sciences to the practice of dentistry. Upon completion, students should be able to apply basic science to the dental field.

Credits

2

DAT 111 : Clinical Practice I

This course is designed to allow the student the opportunity for clinical observation and practical work experience in clinical settings under the supervision of a licensed dentist. Emphasis will be placed on the basic skills of chair side assisting. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate basic skills in the area of chair side assisting. CORE

Credits

5

Prerequisites

DAT 112 : Dental Radiology

This course is designed to cover the essential knowledge of radiographic technique for the practice of dentistry. Students will be taught to produce diagnostically acceptable intra and extra-oral radiographs with emphasis being placed on x-ray properties, generation of x-rays, film processing, operator and patient safety, infection control, quality assurance, intraoral radiographic technique and image characteristics. Upon completion, students should be able to expose, process, and mount radiographs for diagnostic purposes under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. CORE

Credits

3

Prerequisites

As required by program

DAT 113 : Dental Health Education

This course is designed to introduce the student to the basic principles of nutrition, preventive dentistry, and dental health education. Emphasis will be placed on philosophy of preventive dentistry including: oral hygiene, patient motivation and management, and methods of oral health education. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the basic principles of nutrition and preventive dentistry.

Credits

2

DAT 114 : Dental Office Administration

This course is designed to introduce basic dental office procedures. Emphasis includes appointment and recall systems, financial records, accounting procedures, insurance claims, filing systems, purchasing and inventory of supplies and equipment, and the utilization of computers to perform business office procedures. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate efficiency in dental office administrative procedures.

Credits

4

Prerequisites

As required by program

DAT 116 : Pre-Clinical Procedures II

This course focuses on chairside assisting with dental specialty procedures. Emphasis is placed on techniques and procedures of the dental specialties including Orthodontics, Pediatric Dentistry, Oral and maxillofacial surgery, Endodontics, Periodontics, and Prosthodontics. Upon completion, the student should be able to discuss and identify dental specialty procedures and instrumentation.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

DAT/ DAT 101 or equivalent

DAT 122 : Clinical Practice II

This course is designed to provide the student the opportunity to develop advanced dental assisting skills in chair side dental assisting procedures, radiology, team work, communication skills and administrative duties. Emphasis will be placed on clinical procedures. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the area of chair side assisting

Credits

4

Prerequisites

Successful completion of DAT/DAT 111

DAT 141 : Directed Studies in Dental Assisting

This course is designed to study specific areas of dentistry as chosen by the student and faculty member. Emphasis will be placed on the research and critique of a specific dental topic. Upon completion, students should be able to deliver a written and/or oral presentation on the chosen topic.

Credits

3

Prerequisites

As required by program