Dental Assistant Program Description

Program Goals and Objectives

  • To graduate students who demonstrate the knowledge and skills required of a competent entry-level dental assistant.
  • To provide quality education and training that develops the potential of each student to become a productive, responsible, and professional member of society, as well as a skilled member of the dental assisting workforce. 
  • To provide our students with open access and a supportive environment that encourages student success in the classroom, laboratory, and on the externship site.
  • To prepare students to organize, to prioritize, and to delegate care by communicating effectively with members of the dental team.
  • To adhere to professional standards incorporating legal and ethical responsibilities of a Dental Assistant. 
  • To encourage professionalism, integrity, and high standards in students. 
  • To adhere to professional standards incorporating legal and ethical responsibilities of a Dental Assistant. 

Program Outline and Course Descriptions

Course Number


Total Clock Hours (including Outside of School Prep Hours)

Quarter Credit Hours

DA 100

Infection Control



This course is a prerequisite in order to be able to begin the dental assisting program. The course will contain 4 hours of didactic and 4 hours of practical applications that will explain the basic dental science and microbiology as they relate to infection control in dentistry. The course will explain the legal and ethical aspects of infection control procedures. Terms and protocols specified in the regulations of the board regarding the minimum standards for infection control. Describe the principles of modes of disease transmission and prevention. Principles, techniques, and protocols of hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, surface barriers and disinfection, sterilization, sanitation, and hazardous chemicals associated with infection control. Explain the principles and protocols of sterilizer monitoring and the proper loading, unloading, storage, and transportation of instruments to work area. Describe and demonstrate the principles and protocols associated with sharps management, waterline maintenance and infection control for laboratory areas.

DA 200

Fundamentals of Dental Assisting



This course will cover an overview of the dental profession, healthcare teams, history of dentistry through the ages, and the legal and ethical responsibilities expected of dental professional. Students will become knowledgeable of the landmarks of the face and oral cavity, tooth numbering, patterns of eruption, and the functions of the dental arch and teeth in the opposing arch. Students will be able to classify dental caries as an infectious disease, and name the types of bacteria that cause caries. The student will be able to identify systemic factors that may cause periodontal disease and describe the two basic types of periodontal disease and explain the significance of plaque and calculus in periodontal disease.

DA 201

Sciences of Dentistry/Infection Prevention



In this course, instruction will be provided in the location, structures, and functions of head and neck anatomy, including bones of the head and face, musculature, innervations, and the circulatory system. Coursework will include an introduction to the terminology and functions of body systems. Students will be able to describe specific terms relative to general anatomy and physiology of the human body, including systems, planes, cavities, and basic units as well as microorganisms affecting humans. The students will be able to describe the importance of prevention of oral disease and treatment of periodontal disease as well as infection control standards, including requirements of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, hazardous materials handling, labeling, inventory, housekeeping, laundry, and disposal of hazardous materials will be covered. This course will also provide instruction in the process of inflammation, identification of oral lesions, oral diseases and related biological, physical, and chemical agents, as well as hormonal, developmental, and nutritional disturbances. Students will be instructed in basic pharmacology and drugs associated with treating diseases, their use in dentistry, related terms, parts of a prescription, and types of anesthetics.

DA 202

Foundations of Clinical Dentistry



In this course, instruction will address the parts of dental hand instruments, categories and uses, functions of dental burs, abrasives, dental hand pieces, and the importance and function of instrument tray systems and color coding. This course will provide instruction in the types of restorative materials and cements used in general dentistry. The student will be able to describe the role of the dental assistant in chair side restorative procedures, and the properties of dental materials.

DA 203

Dental Materials/Coronal Polishing



This course will provide instruction in a variety of expanded dental functions. Students will be able to prepare, apply, and remove a dental dam, dental matrix and wedge. The student will be able prepare and manipulate and place dental cavity liners, cavity varnish and cements. The student will be able to suture removal and postoperative patient care following oral surgical procedures. The student will be able to explain and describe the placement and removal of gingival retraction devices; preparation and application of enamel sealant material, benefits and types of dental bleaching materials, application techniques, and patient education instructions.

DA 204

Radiology Safety/Administrative



In this course, instruction will be provided in the history and biological effects of radiation, safety precautions, components of the dental x-ray unit, and their function. X-ray study explains how x-rays are produced, and students describe the composition, sizes, types, and storage requirements of dental x-ray film. Students will be instructed in how to expose and process diagnostically acceptable intraoral and extraoral dental films, using both the paralleling and bisecting techniques. Common production errors, processing techniques, mounting procedures, identification of radiographic landmarks, the procedures and state policies required for dental offices to ensure quality radiographs, and the use of imaging systems for dental purposes are covered. Students will study the overall aspects of dental office management, including patient reception, marketing, telephone technique, business office systems, patient scheduling, records managements, accounts receivable, management of patients' accounts, accounts payable, inventory control, and recall systems management. The student will describe in the importance of accurate charting and interpretation for diagnosis, consultation, and financial and billing purposes. Computerized business office systems for the dental office are explored for patient scheduling, records management, patient accounts, and accounts payable. Students develop self-awareness and the importance of communication skills. Emphasis will be placed on assessing professional qualifications including developing a job search network, interview strategies, and interview follow up. Students will create resumes, cover letters, and review the application completion process.

DA 205

Dental Specialties/Patient Assessment



This course will address dental office design, working environment, and the performance of four-handed dental procedures, instrument grasp and transfer, and requirements for special needs patients. The scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry and periodontics will be covered. Students will also receive instruction on how to identify the equipment used for procedures within oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and periodontic practice. Instruction will include preparation for common medical and dental emergencies, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, treating patients with syncope, anaphylaxis, asthma attacks, heart conditions, cerebrovascular accident, and common dental emergencies. Students are required to pass CPR certification during this course. Students will be able to provide patient instruction in the use of removable and fixed prosthodontics including diagnostic steps, materials required for treatment, the importance of a consultation appointment, the advantages and disadvantages of partial and full dentures, the steps required in denture polishing, relining and repair, as well as the function of an overdenture. The definition of an endodontist and how endodontics relates to the dental practice is also included in this course.

DA 300

Clinical Externship



The course description Clinical externship is an 8 week course that includes student placement in a facility that performs various types of skills. The student will be required to complete an average of 20-30 hours a week. Externship provides exposure for hands-on practice. Externship will provide students the opportunity to apply theory concepts and assist the dental staff with daily duties in the front and back office under staff supervision. This experience marks the point of transition from being a student to becoming a Dental Assistant. 




Program Information, Length and Schedule

The program information, length and schedule may change. Make sure to read the accompanying Addendum for change and updates as well as check in with the Admission Advisor for details.

Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts Dental Assistant program provides a library and classrooms equipped with modern audio-visual teaching aids, textbooks, and simulators. Instructor to Student ratio is 1:12 in laboratory, and 1:30 in lecture. Classes begin every 4 weeks. The program consists of 7 didactic/ laboratory courses contained in 4 week blocks. DA 100-Infection control is taught prior to the students starting any of the other courses. After completing DA-100 course, students will complete all courses. DA 200 through DA 205 regardless of the sequence. Students must complete all didactic/laboratory courses to start DA 300 Externship course.

Students must be available 8AM-6:00PM Monday through Friday for didactic and laboratory course work. While on Externship, student may be required to accommodate alternative schedules based on facility placement business hours. Students must be able to complete those special rotations at the schedule provided.

Students receive one hundred ninety-six hours (196) of didactic and three hundred eighty-eight (388) hours of laboratory instruction time and one hundred and eighty (180) hours of clinical externship allowing them to apply the lecture topics and lab hands-on skills in practical use when placed in a dental facility.

One hundred eighty-two and a half (182.5) hours is the minimum required student's outside work time. The curriculum provides students with the technical, clinical, and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in the dental assisting field. Upon completion of the program, a certificate is awarded. Normal completion time for this program is thirty two (32) weeks excluding holidays and vacation times.

In order to ensure program completion is on time and the required program hours are fulfilled, class times can and may be rescheduled on an alternate day of the week (Sunday through Saturday).

Lab Hours:

Lab hours are done in conjunction with daily theory delivery and conducted under instructor guidance and supervision.

Outside Work:

Outside work will be assigned by instructor in correlation to daily theory topic and skills. Assignments will vary from day to day according to topics, to be done on students own time and will be given due dates.

Clinical Externship:

Clinical externship includes student placement in a facility that performs various types of skills and provides exposure to theory concepts, and an opportunity for hands-on practice. Externship will provide opportunity for students to assist facility staff with daily duties in the front and back office under staff supervision. This marks the point of transition from being a student to becoming a dental assistant. The externship serves as a practicum without pay to help students apply learned classroom skills. Students will have a variety of tasks to perform and to document for verification purposes. Daily attendance and performance at the site is verification by facility personnel.