What do Dental Assistants do? (Click to open)
Their role is a varied one that touches every aspect of dental care. Their primary responsibility is
as a chairside assistant to the dentist. Dental assistants also coordinate the office, maintain
patient records, prepare x-rays, and teach patients proper oral health. Other duties include taking
vital signs, polishing teeth, placing temporary crowns, sterilization procedures, ordering supplies,
inventory management and lab work.
As a dental assistant, your role is a combination of duties—part medical technician,
part receptionist, part office manager and part public relations. Dental assistants can
also work in a number of specialties such as orthodontics, oral surgery and pediatric
What is this field like?
Just as a dental assistant's tasks are varied, the field itself offers great flexibility. You can take this
profession to any area of the country and find employment. If you need to take time off from your career,
you can easily re-enter when you're ready to work again. Your work environment is clean and comfortable.
Holidays and weekends are your own; both part and full-time jobs are available; and there are opportunities
to further you knowledge with seminars, courses, classes and continuing education.
Dentistry has been a leader in the health field in making patients feel comfortable and promoting preventive
care. It is also constantly changing with such new technologies as laser dentistry and videotaped exams.
What program does Spokane Community College offer in this field?
SCC offers two options in dental assisting - a one-year certificate and a two-year associate in applied
science (A.A.S.) degree. Both options include identical classes in dental assisting. However, the two-year
A.A.S. degree program includes such liberal arts classes as biology, sociology, chemistry, psychology and
Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board Examination to become
certified dental assistants.
Why should I choose SCC?
Part of the success of SCC's dental assisting program can be attributed to the fact that students receive
extensive hands-on experience and on-the-job training. Students consistently practice the theories they are
learning in the classroom.
In addition to being the most affordable program of its kind in the area, the SCC dental assisting program
has been fully accredited for over 20 years. It is equipped with up-to-date equipment, and the program has
strong ties with the area's dental community.
What classes will I take?
The dental assisting program starts fall quarter. Classes start with the basics, progress to the advanced,
and must be taken in sequence. Students must pass all classes with a 2.0 grade point to continue in the
Students gain clinical experience during both winter and spring quarters.
Where can I get a job?
The SCC dental assisting program has had a 100-percent placement rate for years. Jobs are available in
Spokane as well as across our region and nation. Wherever there are dentists, there is a need for dental
assistants. Employment options include dental offices, specialty offices (such as orthodontics, pediatric
dentistry and oral surgery), dental supply houses, insurance companies, public health agencies and
governmental agencies (including the armed services). Dental schools also hire qualified, experienced
dental assistants to work with dental students.
How much will I earn?
The salary for dental assistants varies greatly depending upon the person's skills, his or her personality
and work ethic, and the employer. Entry-level pay in Spokane ranges from $7 to $10 an hour. Those who show
skill and enthusiasm for their work quickly advance in both income and responsibilities. Benefit packages
often include uniform allowance, continuing education, retirement plans, and medical and dental insurance.