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Clinical Dental Assistant

When you become a dental assistant, you'll enjoy a career that is not only fulfilling, but also rewarding. Caring dental assistants truly make a difference with clients, providing comfort and education. Plus, this field offers flexible hours and is expected to grow exponentially in the future. Dental assistant school is the first step you need to take, and this online Clinical Dental Assistant course will prepare you to become a productive and successful member of a dental hygienist team.

This online dental assisting course is the most comprehensive you'll find. You'll learn about every aspect of professional dental assisting, including invaluable real-world perspectives from experienced dental assistants and essential information about anatomy and physiology, preventive dentistry, patient care and communication, radiology, pharmacology, anesthesia, assisting in specialty practices, employment strategies, and much more.

Toward the end of the course—or after completion—you will have the opportunity to apply for an externship, where you'll get real-life clinical assistant experience. You'll also be ready to pursue certification as a dental assistant by passing the radiology and infection control portions of the Dental Assisting National Board examination. The exam or one or more of its components is necessary in states where registration is required for dental assistants.

Clinical Dental Assistant Externship

The 40-hour Dental Externship is only offered to Clinical Dental Assistant students. The application for the externship is within the course. You must be at least 80% complete with the course before applying but will also have up to 6 months after completion to apply. The externship is not guaranteed. It is an optional part of the course, but highly recommended training for clinical assistant experience. Accepted externship students will be assisted in finding local offices that they are interested in. Externship students will need to pass a background check and a possible drug test. You will be asked to purchase liability insurance and be responsible for purchasing this on their own ($40 to $45 for an annual policy). You will need to provide an updated resume, current CPR certification and proof of current Hepatitis B vaccinations or a current negative test form provided by a doctor, depending on the state or the doctor's office that has been selected for the externship. There may be more requirements depending on the state or dental office selected.

CERTIFIED DENTAL ASSISTANT, CDA AND DANB are trademarks of the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc (DANB). This course is not reviewed or endorsed by DANB.

6 Months / 240 Course Hrs
Open enrollment
Externship offered

Offered in Partnership with your Preferred School

Purchase College, SUNY

Why this school? It's been chosen based on your location or if you've visited this school's website. Change School

Learning Method


Self-Paced. Study on your own schedule

Contact Us for additional information

Clinical Dental Assistant

Contact Us

Details + Objectives

Course Code: GES121

What You Will Learn
  • The progression of dental disease and preventive techniques.
  • Identification of teeth and their functions, as well as the anatomy of the head and neck.
  • Sterilization and disinfection techniques and infection prevention.
  • How to complete patient charting and take vital signs.
  • How to set up trays for dental procedures.
  • Processing quality radiographs.
How the course is taught
  • Self-paced, online course
  • 6 months to complete
  • Open enrollment, begin anytime
  • 240 course hours
How you will benefit
  • You will have the opportunity to apply for the Dental Externship Program, which includes 40 hours of real-life training.
  • You'll also be ready to sit for the radiology and infection control portions of the Dental Assisting National Board examination to start your journey to becoming a certified dental assistant.
  • You'll receive a certificate of completion to show all that you've learned in this course.


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  1. Overview of the Dental Profession
    1. Introduction to the Practice of Dentistry
    2. The Dental Patient
    3. Dental Practice
    4. Employment Strategies
  2. Dental Health and Disease
    1. Oral Health and Preventative Techniques
    2. Nutrition
    3. Etiology of Dental Disease
  3. Anatomy and Physiology
    1. Basic Human Physiology
    2. Head and Neck Anatomy
    3. Embryology and Histology
    4. Tooth Morphology
  4. Infection Control
    1. Microbiology
    2. Infection Control
    3. Management of Hazardous Materials
  5. Basics of Dental Assisting
    1. Patient Care
    2. Dental Charting
    3. Pharmacology
    4. Emergency Management
    5. Chair-side Assisting
    6. Dental Instruments and Tray Setups
    7. Instrument Transfer and Maintaining the Operating Field
    8. Anesthesia and Sedation
  6. Radiology
    1. Producing Quality Radiographs
    2. Processing Quality Radiographs
    3. Extraoral and Digital Radiography
  7. Dental Materials
    1. Dental Cements, Bases, Liners, and Bonding Agents
    2. Restorative Materials, Dental Dams, Matrix, and Wedges
    3. Laboratory Materials and Techniques
  8. Dental Assisting in the Specialty Practice
    1. Endodontics
    2. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
    3. Oral Pathology
    4. Orthodontics
    5. Pediatric Dentistry
    6. Periodontics
    7. Prosthodontics
    8. Oral Radiology
    9. Public Health
    10. Cosmetic Dentistry
  9. Dental Office Management

Instructors & Support

Cindy Lamkin

Cindy Lamkin has been employed in the dental field for over 20 years. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in dental hygiene and holds Registered Dental Assistant and Registered Dental Hygienist credentials. In addition to practicing clinical hygiene, she has also worked in dental office administration and treatment coordination. Her career includes general dentistry, as well as specialty practices of periodontics, endodontics, pedodontics, and orthodontics.




There are no prerequisites prior to taking this course, however, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Basic computer skills are required. No healthcare or medical office work experience is required. A current CPR certification is required for employment, but it's not required for this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.
  • (Please Note: Five optional, non-graded activities are not Mac compatible and require a CD-ROM or DVD Drive.)

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: OS X Snow Leopard 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
Instructional Materials

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment. The following textbooks will be shipped to you approximately 7-10 business days after enrollment:

  • Dental Assisting: A Comprehensive Approach
  • Dental Terminology
  • Dental Assisting Instrument Guide
  • Certification Exam Review for Dental Assisting: Prepare, Practice and Pass!
  • Flossing and Brushing Teaching Model
  • Pediatric Hygiene Kits

Externship packet and dental smock will be provided upon acceptance into the Externship Program.


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Can I register for a course if I am an international student?

Yes, ed2go courses are completely online. However, keep in mind that not all certifying bodies or industry-specific certifications are recognized internationally. Please review your country's regulations prior to enrolling in courses that prepare for certification.

Does this course prepare for a certification?

Yes, you will be prepared to take the Radiation Health and Safety and Infection Control components of the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB). You'll be eligible to earn Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification after you've completed at least two years of employment (a minimum of 3,500 hours accrued over a two to four year period); to do so, you must meet work experience and other eligibility prerequisites and pass the General Chairside component of DANB's CDA exam, in addition to the Radiation Health and Safety and Infection Control components. All three components must be passed within a five-year period. For information about the DANB exam, please visit:

When can I start the course?

This course is open enrollment, so you can register and start the course as soon as you are ready. Access to your course can take 24-48 business hours.

How long does it take to complete this course?

This course is self-paced and open enrollment, so you can start when you want and finish at your own pace. When you register, you'll receive six (6) months to complete the course.

What if I don't have enough time to complete my course within the time frame provided?

The time allotted for course completion has been calculated based on the number of course hours. However, if you are unable to complete the course, contact your Student Advisor to help you work out a suitable completion date. Please note that an extension fee may be charged.

What kind of support will I receive?

You may be assigned with an instructor or team of industry experts for one-on-one course interaction. Your support will be available (via email) to answer any questions you may have and to provide feedback on your performance. All of our instructors are successful working professionals in the fields in which they teach. You will be assigned to an Advisor for academic support.

What happens when I complete the course?

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be awarded a Certificate of Completion.

Am I guaranteed a job?

This course will provide you with the skills you need to obtain an entry-level position in most cases. Potential students should always do research on the job market in their area before registering.

Can I get financial assistance?

This course is non-credit, so it does not qualify for federal aid, FAFSA and Pell Grant. In some states, vocational rehab or workforce development boards will pay for qualified students to take our courses. Additionally, some students may qualify for financial assistance when they enroll, if they meet certain requirements. Financing is available from select schools. Learn more about financial assistance.

How can I get more information about this course?

If you have questions that are not answered on our website, representatives are available via LIVE chat. You can also call us at 1-877-221-5151 during regular business hours to have your questions promptly answered. If you are visiting us during non-business hours, please send us a question using the "Contact Us" form.

Can I work in a dental office without certification?

When you've completed this course, you'll have the skills needed to work in a dental office. Regulations for the practice of dental assisting vary by state. To find out about the laws in your state, consult the Dental Practice Act, available through the Board of Dentistry. Passing the Radiation Health and Safety and Infection Control components of the DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Exam may enable dental assistants to meet requirements for performing certain expanded duties in many states. A dental assistant certified by DANB can often perform a larger set of expanded duties, depending on state laws and regulations. All of our students are encouraged to pursue certification. Completion of this online course will help entry-level students gain employment to fulfill the required work experience (a minimum of 3,500 hours accrued over a two to four year period) before taking the General Chairside component of the DANB CDA exam.

Certified Dental Assistant, CDA and DANB are trademarks of the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc (DANB). This course is not reviewed or endorsed by DANB.

What is a Certified Dental Assistant?

Certified Dental Assistants have passed the three components of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certification Exam and have met the Board's work experience requirements. While regulations vary by state, Certified Dental Assistants often take on more responsibility than those who are not certified. We encourage all of our students to pursue certification.

What will I do as a clinical dental assistant?

You will have a wide range of important duties as a clinical dental assistant. Your job will vary based on the dental office you work for and the state your work in, but some typical duties include: preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing tools, instructing patients on proper dental hygiene, passing instruments to the dentist during procedures, keeping records of treatments, scheduling appointments, processing x-rays, and working with patients on billing and payments. In a few states, dental assistants may be able to polish teeth, apply sealants and fluoride, and give topical anesthetics.

What education do I need to become a clinical dental assistant?

In many states, there is no specific type of training required of a dental assistant other than a high school diploma. A great way to set yourself apart and set yourself up for success in a career as a dental assistant is to complete an online training course like the Clinical Dental Assistant course from ed2go. After completing your online training course, it's a good idea to sit for your Certified Dental Assistant certification to further show your commitment to the profession.

What is the average salary of a clinical dental assistant?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of a clinical dental assistant is currently just under $38,000 per year. This salary can vary widely depending on your experience level, education, and location in the United States.

Are clinical dental assistants in demand?

Yes, clinical dental assistants are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for dental assistants is very good. Employment is projected to grow by 19% through 2026 which is considered much faster than average. Ongoing researching linking good dental health with good overall health is driving this growth as demand for preventative services continues to increase.

What kind of hours do clinical dental assistants work?

Most dental assistants work a full time schedule of 40 hours per week, however there are some dental assistants that work part time. Many of the hours will be worked during the day, but depending on your dental office, you may be asked to work some evenings or weekends.

Where do clinical dental assistants work?

Almost all clinical dental assistants work in dental offices under the supervision of dentists, though some may find employment with the government or in physicians' offices. Dental assistants work very closely with dental hygienists. In this position, you will need to wear surgical masks, safety goggles, gloves, and protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. You will have the opportunity to sit, but you will also need to be on your feet for large portions of the day.

What qualities should a good clinical dental assistant have?

To be a good clinical dental assistant, you should be detail oriented and good at working with your hands. You will need to follow precise protocols, and you will work with your hands in tight spaces. You should also be a good communicator as well as a good listener. You will work directly with patients on a daily basis so a calm, friendly demeanor is a must. It's important to have great organizational skills as well.

Is a clinical dental assistant the same as a dental hygienist?

No, a dental assistant and a dental hygienist are not the same. A dental assistant directly supports a dentist with small, supervised jobs performed on patients' teeth and administrative tasks in the office. A dental hygienist will work one-on-one with patients with less supervision. A dental assistant can practice after earning a dental assistant training certificate while a dental hygienist must obtain an associate degree in dental hygiene at minimum.

Can a dental assistant become a dental hygienist?

Yes, a dental assistant can become a dental hygienist by earning an associate or bachelor's degree in dental hygiene and passing the appropriate state-mandated licensing exams. If you are considering a future career as a dental hygienist, becoming a dental assistant is a great way to get into the industry and gain some experience while you earn your degree. Don't wait to get started in a career you love.

Will I be responsible for cleaning teeth as a dental assistant?

No. Dental assistants are not responsible for cleaning a patient's teeth. Only a licensed dentist or dental hygienist are allowed to clean teeth or remove dental calculus.

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About Certification

Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is a non-profit organization that has been certifying dental assistants for nearly 40 years. DANB boasts over 37,000 currently certified dental assistants nationwide, and its CDA and COA certifications have be accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).