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SJVC’s Dental Assisting program trains students in all aspects of working with a dentist, including patient care, office, and laboratory duties.

At a Glance

  • Earn a certificate of completion in as few as 11 months

  • Earn certifications in Dental Radiation Safety, CPR, Infection Control, and Dental Law and Ethics

  • With the completion of coronal polish and pit and fissure sealants, students are eligible to take the Dental Board of California Examination for state licensure*

  • Conveniently offered at five campuses in CA

  • Affordable tuition varies, learn more now

About the Program

What Will I Learn

Our Dental Assisting students learn:

  • Dental anatomy and radiology
  • Dental software
  • Preventive dentistry
  • Dental practice management
  • Coronal polishing

Courses taken by our Dental Assisting students include:

Orientation to Dentistry

This course focuses on the study of the oral environment within dentistry. Nutrition as it relates to dental health and an introduction to standard infection control procedures will be covered in this course. The roles of the Dental Healthcare Professional (DHCP) will be introduced in a simulated laboratory setting.

Dental Anatomy and Patient Management

The emphasis of this course is on the basic study of the anatomy of the head and neck. This course also provides the theory as well as a hands-on approach to medical and dental emergencies. Emphasis is given to step-by-step procedures performed by the Dental Healthcare Professional (DHCP) and will be performed on typodonts in a laboratory setting, in a pre-clinical setting and clinical observation in an extramural facility. This course will also present principles and practices of infection control, OSHA regulations, law and ethics, practice management, and communication. 

Preventative Clinical Procedures

This course presents the principles of preventive dentistry specializing in coronal polish and pit and fissure sealants. Emphasis is placed on applicable oral anatomy, histology, physiology, and oral pathology pertaining to preventive procedures. Students will be required to perform coronal polish and place pit and fissure sealants on laboratory typodonts as well as clinical patients. This course will also apply principles and practices of infection control, OSHA regulations, California Dental Practice Act, practice management, and communication.

Career Opportunities

If you want to become a dental assistant in California, our Dental Assisting program prepares graduates for a career that offers many work environment options. As a dental assistant or dental office employee, you can expect to perform the following job duties:

  • Provide chair side assistance to the dentist
  • Take dental impressions
  • Coronal polish and fluoride treatments
  • Expose and process X-Rays
  • Practice infection control procedures
  • Apply pit and fissure sealants

The job market for dental assistants is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of dental assistants is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations1. The national median annual wage for dental assistants was $40,080 in May 20192. Be advised, salary for entry level positions may be lower than the national average.

Program Availability

SJVC’s Dental Assisting program is available at the following campuses:

Cost & Financial Aid

Education is the most important investment you can make in your future. There is a financial plan available for everyone, including a broad range of financial assistance options. Visit SJVC’s Net Price Calculator to get personalized information on college costs and financial aid. Check out SJVC’s Academic Catalog to learn about program costs by campus and credential level. You also can talk to an Admissions Representative to discuss the costs of your chosen program, and schedule an appointment with an experienced financial aid officer.  Student loans, grants, and scholarships are available to those who qualify.

Accreditation & Approvals

The SJVC Dental Assisting program is approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Dental Board of California.

Institutional Accreditation

San Joaquin Valley College holds dual institutional accreditations.

San Joaquin Valley College is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501,(510)748-9001 and also the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at www.accjc.org.

State Approvals

CALIFORNIA

SJVC is a private institution and is approved to operate as an accredited institution by the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE). Approval to operate means that SJVC has been found in compliance with the standards set forth in the California Private Postsecondary Education Act of 2009 (as amended) and Title 5, Division 7.5, – Private Postsecondary Education of the California Code of Regulations. As a prospective student, you are encouraged to review this catalog prior to signing an enrollment agreement. You are also encouraged to review the School Performance Fact Sheet, which must be provided to you prior to signing an enrollment agreement.

A student or any member of the public may file a complaint about this institution with the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education by calling (888) 370-7589 or by completing a complaint form, which can be obtained on the Bureau’s internet website (www.bppe.ca.gov).

View additional State Approvals for SJVC.

Continuing Education For Graduates

Health Studies

Program Description

SJVC’s Health Studies program may be completed in 25 weeks. The program is designed for healthcare professionals who want to advance their career and who have earned a certificate of completion in Dental Assisting from SJVC. The Health Studies Associate of Science Degree affords excellent opportunities for professional growth and development through instruction in general education coursework designed to produce the competencies of higher education that employers expect of college graduates.

For More Information Call Us at: (866) 544-7898

Dental Assistant FAQ

How much does a dental assistant make?

The median annual wage for dental assistants was $40,080 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 The lowest 10% earned less than $27,980, and the highest 10% earned more than $56,930. 

Be advised, salary for entry level positions may be lower than the national average.

What does a dental assistant do?

Dental assistants play an important role in a dental office, often working in patient care as well as administrative capacities. This can include scheduling appointments, recordkeeping, sterilizing dental instruments, passing instruments to a dentist or dental hygienist, and operating equipment such as suction hoses during dental procedures. 

How long does it take to become a dental assistant?

Dental assisting is a career one can enter without a degree. In some states, schooling is required.2 SJVC’s Dental Assisting program can be completed in as few as 11 months. 

How long is the Dental Assisting program?

SJVC’s Dental Assisting program can be completed with a certificate of completion in as few as 11 months. 

What do you need to become a dental assistant?

Becoming a dental assistant takes minimal training. To become a dental assistant you should:

  1. Complete high school or obtain an equivalent degree.
  2. Depending on the state you live in, attend an accredited dental assistant program and pass an exam.
  3. Seek employment as a dental assistant.

Some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. In other states, there are no formal educational requirements, and dental assistants learn through on-the-job training.

How to become a certified dental assistant

Students at San Joaquin Valley College can earn a Certificate of Completion, along with other relevant certifications in Dental Radiation Safety, CPR, Infection Control, Dental Law, and Ethics. Once you complete the program, you may be eligible to take certification and licensure exams related to your major or interest. Please note, the college does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program.

What is a dental assistant?

A dental assistant is a member of a dental healthcare team, working with dentists and dental hygienists. Dental assistants provide patient care and chair-side support as dentists complete exams and procedures. Most visibly, people may see dental assistant’s passing instruments, though that is only a small portion of their duties. 

How much is dental assistant school?

Dental assistant school costs vary widely by institution, location, and personal information. Additionally, you may qualify for scholarships or other forms of financial aid. To estimate your cost of attendance at SJVC’s Dental Assistant Program, please see our Net Price calculator.

How much does a registered dental assistant make?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not distinguish between registered dental assistants and unregistered dental assistants. The median annual wage for dental assistants was $40,080 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.1 The lowest 10% earned less than $27,980, and the highest 10% earned more than $56,930.

Be advised, salary for entry level positions may be lower than the national average.

How to become a registered dental assistant in California

To become a registered dental assistant (RDA) licensed by the Dental Board of California, the following steps must be taken:4

  1. Obtain formal education or training through one of the following:
    1. Graduate from a Board-approved RDA program.
    2. Complete a minimum of 15 months of dental assistant work experience under a licensed dentist in the U.S.
    3. Complete a 4-month program approved by the California Department of Education and 11 months of work experience under a licensed dentist in the U.S.
    4. Complete Board-approved courses in coronal polishing and radiation safety.
  2. Within five years of application, complete a Board-approved course in the Dental Practice Act.
  3. Within five years of application, complete a Board-approved, eight-hour course in infection control.
  4. Complete a basic life support course from an instructor approved by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.
  5. Provide fingerprint clearance from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
  6. Take and pass the RDA General and Law and Ethics Written exam.

While it is possible to become a dental assistant with only on-the-job training, a certificate program can be beneficial for those who wish to become licensed in California. This is, in part, because programs like SJVC’s Dental Assisting program include Board-required courses related to coronal polishing, radiation safety, infection control and basic life support.

If you choose to become an unlicensed dental assistant, you still must complete the following:

  • Board-approved course in the California Dental Practice Act
  • Board-approved course in infection control
  • Basic life support course from an instructor approved by the American Red Cross or American Heart Association.

Sources:

  1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-5
  2. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-4
  3. https://www.ada.org/en/education-careers/careers-in-dentistry/dental-team-careers/dental-assistant/education-training-requirements-dental-assistant
  4. https://www.dbc.ca.gov/applicants/become_licensed_rda.shtml

Check out our guide on becoming a Dental Assistant in California.

Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care and administrative duties. They take x-rays, schedule patient appointments and assist dentists during dental procedures.

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Disclaimer

*SJVC prepares students to take appropriate certification and licensure exams related to their individual majors. The College does not guarantee students will successfully pass these exams or be certified or licensed as a result of completing the program.

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dental Assistants, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm (visited February 25, 2021).  Data reflects a national projected percentage change in employment from 2019-2029 and may not reflect local economic conditions.
  2. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dental-assistants.htm#tab-5