Dental Assistant Courses

Here are some common course subjects covered in dental assisting degree and certificate programs. These are general descriptions, so the actual course content in each class may vary slightly from school to school. (See: dental assistant training.)

To see what colleges are offering dental assisting programs check out our list of popular dental assisting schools, or find schools by zip code to see what programs are in your area.

Dental Radiology – This is the study of x-ray techniques as they apply to dentistry, such as patient positioning, film positioning, handling the x-ray tubehead, and developing and reading x-ray radiographs.

Chair-Side Procedures – This general topic includes proper procedures for greeting and preparing the patient, assistant positioning, equipment familiarity and setup, instrument handling, and dismissing the patient.

Dental Equipment Use – The proper use, cleaning and handling of equipment such as mirrors, probes, drills, x-ray machines, retractors, anesthesia and other cleaning and surgical tools.

Laboratory Procedures – General procedures surrounding prosthedontics, dentures and other tooth replacement surgery practices.

Dental Office Administration – This course involves front-office administrative skills such as appointment setting, billing and handling patient records, and typically includes medical terminology, computer training and patient care skills.

Pediatric Dentistry – Pediatric dentistry is dental care for children and infants, such as use of dental sealant, fluoride treatments, proper brushing and flossing, and orthodontics.

Maxillofacial Surgery – Surgery of the hard and soft tissues surrounding the mouth, face, jaw and neck area, including on impacted teeth, tumors, cleft lips or palates, and other dental defects.

Periodontics – This is the study of the structures supporting the teeth, such as the gums, bone and ligaments, and the treatment of diseases and conditions that affect them.

Dental Anatomy – This is the study of human tooth structures, including the development, appearance and classification of teeth. This also includes terminology surrounding teeth and the structures supporting them.

Tooth Impressions – In this course, students learn about the molds dentists make of teeth, which are used in creating tooth prosthetics.

Oral Evacuation – This course is about learning to use the tools involved in suctioning excess moisture from the patient’s mouth during procedures. This process can be done by the dentist or by the assistant.

Four-Handed Dentistry – This is an efficient form of dentistry wherein the dentist and the dental assistant work on a patient simultaneously, using a style of positioning to facilitate the smoothness of the procedure.

Orthodontics – This is the area of dentistry concerned with improper bites, such as an overbite. This field has to do with the straightness of the teeth, the size relationships between the laws, and other factors that contribute to an improper bite.

Dental Science Fundamentals – This is the general science of dentistry, and is typically an overview course designed to familiarize students with the field. Courses in this subject would explore various aspects of dentistry to a relatively shallow degree.

Dental Pathology – This is the study of the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and illnesses of the teeth, jaw and surrounding tissue. It focuses partially on diagnosing disease through tissue specimens.