|What is a Dental Assistant?
||A dental assistant works directly with a dentist to handle instruments, supplies and equipment, and to assist the dentist as needed. The dental assistant provides direct patient care and is responsible for maintaining sterile and safe conditions during dental procedures. A dental assistant may work in general dentistry, or in a specialty field such as orthodontics or oral surgery. Average salaries are $13 - 17 per hour. Learn more about the career at danb.org.
|Length of Program
||3 semesters (not including prerequisite courses); Program courses must be taken in sequence within the prescribed time frame.
|Semester Program Begins
||Summer Semester; Full time; Day classes only
|Minimum Age Requirement
||18 years of age at the start of program.
|General Admission Application Process
- Apply to Gwinnett Technical College at GwinnettTech.edu, submit all transcripts from high school and previous college work, and take the Accuplacer test, if required. Students must be accepted into Gwinnett Technical College prior to applying to a program of study.
- Applicants are initially accepted into the Healthcare Assistant certificate program while completing the required prerequisite courses.
|Program Application Process
||All applicants are required to submit a program packet. Forms are available online at www.GwinnettTech.edu/enrollment/forms-documents/.
|Program Application Deadline
||Summer application deadline: March 22
Prerequisite deadline: End of spring semester
(Minimum 2.5 GPA)
|All of the following:
|Additional Required Course
*Courses must be completed within five years of the competitive program file completion deadline.
- ALHS 1040 * required for completion of diploma, but is not a prerequisite. Recommended to be taken prior to acceptance; otherwise it must be taken summer semester after acceptance.
- Candidates are scored and ranked based on: prerequisite courses GPA
- Obtain two recent professional letters of recommendation.
- Dental Assisting Observation Form. GwinnettTech.edu/enrollment/forms-documents/.
|Program Costs and Requirements
||A student can expect to pay on top of tuition: approximately $950 for: uniforms; malpractice insurance; textbooks; other incidental costs. All costs are approximated and are subject to change.
|For more information, contact:
For admission and enrollment, contact:
|Kim Smith, program support specialist, KimberlySmith@GwinnettTech.edu, 678-226-69663
Enrollment Support Center in Building 100 at the Lawrenceville campus, or Building A at the Alpharetta-North Fulton campus, or email HealthTeam@GwinnettTech.edu.
Lawrenceville Campus: 4th Thursday of each month at 5 p.m., Building 200, Room 324
Alpharetta-North Fulton Campus: 1st Tuesday of every month from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. by appointment only
Please contact Kim Smith at KimberlySmith@GwinnettTech.edu to make an appointment
|2016 Median pay
|| $36,940 per year/ $17.76 per hour
|Entry level education
|Number of jobs, 2014
|Job growth, 2014 - 2024
|| 18% (much faster than average)
Nature of the Work
Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, provide appropriate instruments and materials required to treat each patient, and obtain and update patients’ dental records. Assistants make patients comfortable in the dental chair and prepare them for treatment. During dental procedures, assistants work alongside the dentist to provide assistance. They hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients’ mouths dry and clear by using suction hoses or other devices. They also instruct patients on postoperative and general oral healthcare.
Dental assistants may prepare materials for impressions and restorations and process dental x-rays as directed by a dentist. They also may remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place dental dams to isolate teeth for treatment. Dental assistants with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Those with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies and materials.
Dental assistants work in a well-lighted, clean environment. Their work area is usually near the dental chair so that they can arrange instruments, materials, and medication and hand them to the dentist when needed. Dental assistants wear personal protective equipment as recommended for infectious disease prevention and are trained in the CDC recommendations for sharps injury prevention, and radiology health and safety.
Most dental assistants work full time. However, nearly 1 in 3 assistants worked part time in 2014. Some may work evenings or weekends.
The employment opportunities include general dentistry; group practice; specific dental specialties such as oral surgery, endodontics, orthodontics, prosthetics, periodontics, and periodontics; dental school clinics; federal, state, and community clinics. Other opportunities include managing a dental business office, working in a major dental manufacturing or insurance company, serving in the armed forces, or teaching or working in research and development at a college or other agency.
Dental assistants held about 318,800 jobs nationally in 2014. About 93 percent of all jobs for dental assistants were in offices of dentists. Employment is expected to grow 18 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.
Median annual wages nationally of dental assistants were $36,940 in May 2016. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,950, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $50,660. Benefits vary substantially by practice setting and may be contingent upon full-time employment.
Research the Career
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Dental Assistants
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm (visited January 26, 2017).