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Dental Assisting

Certificate

Program Overview

Dental assistants play many roles, from chair-side assisting to client education to office reception. It’s a client-focused, team-based work environment. This makes attention to detail, commitment to high standards, good decision-making skills and good communication skills a must.

As part of a dental team, you’ll assist dentists, dental hygienists and dental therapists in the provision of quality care either in private dental practices or in various community-based settings such as health care or educational institutions.

Note

International applicants are not currently considered for admission to this program.

Sask Polytech's nationally accredited, one-year Dental Assisting certificate program is offered at Saskatchewan Polytechnic Regina campus. You’ll learn from experienced instructors using up-to-date dental equipment and techniques. You’ll develop knowledge and skills in:

  • providing chair-side support for diagnostic, assessment, restorative and specialty procedures
  • performing intra-oral procedures as specified by Saskatchewan legislation
  • performing business and reception procedures
  • counselling patients in regard to maintaining oral health

Real-World Training

Hands-on learning in the dental clinic at the Regina campus is a highlight of the program. The clinic gives you a chance to gain clinical experience each week practicing your skills and building your confidence under the supervision of licensed professionals. You’ll also participate in three weeks of clinical experiences, each one giving you on-the-ground training in an actual dental practice.

Learning Environment

  • 65 students are accepted each year.
  • As a student, you will experience a combination of classroom, clinical and lab instruction along with practicum placements.
  • Class hours are 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. daily with 30-40 hours of homework each week outside of class time.
  • Lab courses involve instructor demonstration, hands-on participation and peer group activities. 
  • Regular attendance is expected, as well as active participation in group work and effective course management.

Career and Salary Information

Your Career

When you graduate, you’ll be qualified to work in many different settings including private dental offices, community health clinics, educational facilities, health care institutions and insurance and dental supply companies.

Potential Careers

Sample Job TitleNOC Classification1Earning Potential2
Dental AssistantDental Assistants (3411)$38,500 - $62,400

What's the Work Like?

  • Assist the dentist and hygienist during a variety of treatment procedures;
  • Take and develop dental radiographs (x-rays);
  • Ask about the patient’s medical history and take blood pressure and pulse;
  • Serve as an infection control officer, develop infection control protocol and prepare and sterilize instruments and equipment;
  • Help patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment;
  • Provide patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment;
  • Prepare dental instruments and materials;
  • Treatment procedures, such as perform selective coronal polishes, apply fluoride treatments, anticariogenic agents, desensitizing agents and fissure sealants
  • Teach patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health (e.g., toothbrushing, flossing and nutritional counseling);
  • Take impressions of patients’ teeth and fabricate study casts (models of teeth);
  • Fabricate and place temporary crowns and restorations;
  • Perform office management tasks that often require the use of a computer;
  • Document various dental treatment records;
  • Communicate with patients and suppliers (e.g., schedule appointments, charge for dental treatment completed, answer the telephone, bill and order supplies);
  • Perform intra-oral duties such as remove sutures, take and record vital signs, topical anaesthetic, treatment liners, and apply and remove rubber dams; and
  • Assist with and help to provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery.

Below is a list of skills, with examples, that are important in this line of work. You do not need to have all of these skills before entering the program. However you will need to have the ability and desire to build these type of skills in order to be successful in the field.

This section is based on the more detailed Essential Skills Profiles developed and available through the Government of Canada.

Below is a list of skills (with examples) that are important in this line of work. This section is based on the Essential Skills Profiles developed and available through the Government of Canada.

  • Read instructions and other text entries on product labels, packaging and instructions for use.
  • Reference the Canadian Dental Assistant Association Code of Ethics and provincial Dental Assistant association acts to review competencies, regulatory bylaws, confidentiality requirements, competency standards and continuing education requirements.
  • Emails on a variety treatment options and payments from patients, insurance companies and other dental professionals.
  • Scan a variety of symbols and icons. e.g. scan Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) symbols to identify potential biohazards.
  • Complete a variety of forms including inventory control forms, receipts, order forms, laboratory and X-ray requisition forms, insurance claims and dental charts by entering data, such as dates, times, quantities and costs.
  • Write short text entries in reporting and administrative forms, e.g. write the procedures completed on dental charts.
  • Transcribe treatment letters to patients, referring dentists and dental insurance companies.
  • May write instructions, e.g. write notes for patients outlining procedures that have been done and instructions for medication and other post-operative care.
  • Reconcile daily deposit transactions and make change for cash payments, from patients, for completed dental treatment.
  • Calculate and verify invoice and receipt amounts, e.g. calculate amounts to be claimed from dental insurance plans.
  • Calculate quantities of materials for mixtures, e.g. calculate the amount of water and plaster needed for a specific type of dental cast.
  • Talk to suppliers to learn about the availability of products and their delivery dates.
  • Talk to patients and their relatives, e.g. explain treatments and oral hygiene practices to young patients and their parents.
  • Reassure patients to reduce anxieties and to comfort those undergoing painful dental procedures.
  • Talk to other dental professionals to refer patients or request patient information.
  • Plan what to do when encountering patients with special needs, e.g. serve those in wheelchairs who cannot lift themselves into the dentist's chair. They address their needs, such as by lifting them into the chair with the help of another staff member.
  • Locate information about patients by asking them questions and by reading charts for information about their medical condition and special needs
  • Organize workday according to the scheduled appointments. They assess what preparation is required for each patient, sometimes helping several patients at the same time.
  • May operate point-of-sale equipment, such as electronic credit card machines and touch-screens to complete billing transactions.
  • May use intranets and email applications to exchange information and documents with co-workers, dentists, specialists and suppliers.
  • May use databases to input inventory and determine the availability of materials and supplies.
  • May operate digital radiography equipment and intra-oral cameras to create dental radiographs and photographs of teeth and intra-oral lesions.

  • Conduct Informational Interviews with people working in this field.
  • Explore the possibility of job shadowing.
  • Read more about NOC 3411 Dental Assistants.
  • Arrange an INSIGHT experience or Info Night at Saskatchewan Polytechnic
  • Call 1 866 467 4278 and ask to speak with the program head or a career counsellor at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Length and Start Date

Start Date(s): August

Length: 40 weeks

Locations

  • Regina

Admissions

Admission Requirements

  • Grade 12 with a minimum overall average of 65% in English Language Arts A30, English Language Arts B30, Biology 30, and the highest grade in either Foundations of Math 20, Foundations of Math 30, or Pre-Calculus 30* (For Special Admission purposes, Grade 12, or GED, or equivalent is required in addition to ACCUPLACER)
  • English Language Requirement

Note

  • Standard First Aid and CPR Heartsaver " C" AED or equivalent are required prior to entry into the Dental Assisting program and must be current to the year of the program.

 

*Previous Saskatchewan mathematics requirement also accepted: 

  • Highest grade in a 20 or 30 level math

Special Admission

Applicants who do not possess the academic qualifications for a program may be admitted if evidence of probable success can be established through a special admission assessment. Interested individuals should still apply. Applicants are automatically considered for special admission. However, some specific admission requirements may still need to be met. Refer to the ACCUPLACER© cut scores for this program below, and review additional details concerning Special Admission.

ACCUPLACER©

  • 70 Arithmetic
  • 85 Reading
  • 85 Sentence
  • 5 WritePlacer

Admission Method

First Qualified/First Admitted

The First Qualified/First Admitted (FQFA) process is used for the majority of Saskatchewan Polytechnic programs. When we determine that you meet the program's admission requirements, you will be offered admission based on the date you fully qualify for the program. The earlier you provide the appropriate documents and information that qualify you for admission to the next intake, the earlier you might begin your studies. Your application, once qualified, is always considered for the next intake. 

Applicants to programs with multiple intakes in an academic year remain in the application pool until the last intake for that academic year has begun. Programs using the FQFA process receive applications year round and maintain an application pool for each academic year. Qualified applicants who are not offered a seat must reapply for the next academic year. 

Sponsored programs or programs targeted to specific groups do not accept applications year round or maintain an application pool.

See Admission Processes for more information about this method of admission.

Tuition and Fees

Estimates are based on current rates and are subject to change. Amounts for a program may vary by campus. Totals shown here include all mandatory fees as well as books and supplies. For a complete breakdown of tuition and fees for this program, click here to access the Saskatchewan Polytechnic campus Tuition and Fee Schedules.

 

$9,700

Courses

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Semester 1

Code
Name/Description
Credits
 
APHY 160
Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology
3
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You will develop a basic understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human body. You will discuss the concept of homeostasis. You will acquire knowledge of cells, tissues, organs and all the organ systems of the human body.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Equivalent Course(s): APHY 189
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory, Online, Print Distance Group, Prior Learning
DENT 159
Preventive Dentistry and Nutrition
3
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You will be introduced to the concepts of preventive dentistry and nutrition as they relate to general/oral health and disease. You will learn the relationship between dental biofilm and oral diseases. In addition, you will study the appropriate use of and indications for oral care aids, products, and professional methods designed to prevent and control oral disease. A basic understanding will be developed of the functions and dietary sources of major nutrients, the nutritional needs throughout the lifecycle, as well as nutrition-related oral health issues. Your studies will help you develop the knowledge, skill, and attitude to practice excellent personal oral health care.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory
DENT 166
Oral Embryology, Histology and Anatomy
3
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You will learn, through lectures and laboratory/clinical experiences, the basic anatomy of permanent and deciduous teeth, their sequence of eruption, the basic structures of the oral cavity and the supporting dental structures. You will study prenatal and postnatal development and factors that affect normal and abnormal development of the face, palate, teeth and related structures of the oral cavity.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory
DNTL 167
Infection Prevention & Control
2
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Your studies will focus on infection prevention and control in the dental office. You will learn to implement policies and procedures necessary to protect yourself, clients and co-workers and to prevent transmission of disease in the dental office.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Corequisites(s):
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical, Online
DNTL 168
Moisture Control
2
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You will be introduced to a variety of moisture control methods used in dentistry. Working on manikins and peers in the Dental Assisting Clinic, you will apply and remove a dental dam and apply other isolation techniques required for dental procedures. You will learn how to maintain a clear operating field for dental procedures.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Corequisites(s):
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical, Online
DNTL 169
Permanent Restorative Procedures
4
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Through lectures and practice in a simulated environment, you will develop skills to prepare the operatory and assist with permanent restorative procedures. You will apply topical anesthetic and assist with the administration of local anesthetic. You will also learn to use the Tofflemire TM Matrix system.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Corequisites(s):
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical, Online
DNTL 171
Dental Restorative Materials
4
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You will study the properties and clinical use of dental materials. The course content includes the manipulation of treatment lining, restorative and luting materials. You will learn to place liners, bases and bonding systems in basic cavity preparations without pulpal exposures. You will apply treatment liners on a manikin in the laboratory setting.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical
DNTL 172
Clinical Foundations
3
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You will be working on manikins and peers in the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Dental Assisting Clinic to prepare you to practice ergonomically, use four-handed dentistry, develop instrumentation skills, obtain and record vital sign measurements and assist with an examination appointment. In preparation for client care procedures, you will also follow professional deportment and practice clinic support procedures.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical
DNTL 173
Fundamentals of Dental Assisting
3
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You will learn how the dental assistant functions within the dental health team, the workplace and society. You will be introduced to the skills required to be successful in the dental assisting program and profession. In addition, you will learn the importance of consent, privacy and confidentiality in relation to dental records. Using a computerized office system, you will learn how to manage dental records, claims and accounts and schedule appointments. The dental assisting process of care will be introduced to provide a framework for providing quality care for clients.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab
RDGR 161
Radiography 1
2
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You will study the principles of radiation physics, biology, chemistry and safety. You will study the theory supporting exposing, processing and interpreting dental images. You will discuss methods to manage various clients who require dental images. Working on dental manikins, you will learn to prepare film and phosphor storage plates (PSP) to take dental bitewing images for diagnostic purposes. You will learn about quality assurance procedures. You will be introduced to radiographic film processors and digital imaging software.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab

Semester 2

Code
Name/Description
Credits
 
CLIN 110
Clinical Dental Assisting Practice 1
6
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You will develop skills and knowledge in clinical dental assisting for client care and dental office reception skills in the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Dental Assisting clinic. You will progress towards the competence required of an entry-level dental assistant.
Credit Units: 6
Course Hours: 90.0
Prerequisites(s): APHY 160, DENT 159, DENT 166, DNTL 167, DNTL 168, DNTL 169, DNTL 171, DNTL 172, DNTL 173, RDGR 161, DNTL 262(concurrent), RDGR 162(concurrent)
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum
DENT 180
Dental Technology
4
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You will study the physical properties of materials used for taking preliminary impressions and for fabricating diagnostic casts with dental stone. You will learn to take upper and lower preliminary impressions with a bite registration, and fabricate and finish stone casts. In addition, you will produce a mouthguard and whitening tray using a stone cast.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Prerequisites(s): DENT 166, DNTL 167, DNTL 168, DNTL 169, DNTL 171, DNTL 172
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical
DENT 282
Dental Specialties
4
Show course details
You will be introduced to prosthodontic, endodontic, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontic and periodontic procedures performed within a general dental practice. You will also discuss dental care for pediatric and geriatric clients. Your studies will focus on the specialized equipment, materials and procedures as it relates to your role as the dental assistant.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Prerequisites(s): DENT 166, DNTL 167, DNTL 168, DNTL 169, DNTL 172, DNTL 173
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab, Online
DNTL 174
Dental Communication and Practice Management
4
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You will study communication processes focusing on the dental assistant’s role in practice management, marketing the practice, reporting suspected abuse and advocating for special needs clients. You will prepare written employment documentation. You will develop skills to maintain a positive environment, manage telephone calls, process mail and control inventory and supplies.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Prerequisites(s): DNTL 173
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory
DNTL 262
Client Care Procedures
3
Show course details
You will develop skills to perform clinical dental assisting procedures. You will learn to apply products that remove stain, prevent dental decay, whiten teeth and decrease tooth sensitivity.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Prerequisites(s): APHY 160, DENT 159, DENT 166, DNTL 167, DNTL 168, DNTL 169, DNTL 171, DNTL 172, DNTL 173
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical, Online
PATH 262
General/Oral Pathology and Pharmacology
3
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You will explore common disease of the body and the dental management of the medically compromised client. You will learn about various diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. Medications used to treat medical and dental conditions will be explored and the dental implications of medications will also be emphasized.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Prerequisites(s): APHY 160, DENT 166
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Theory, Online
PRAC 115
Orientation Practicum
2
Show course details
In a general dental practice, you will observe the various roles of the dental assistant to prepare you to participate as a member of the dental team. You will observe dental professionals performing various procedures and perform dental assisting skills under the mentorship of a licensed dental assistant. Your mentor(s), in partnership with the dentist will offer feedback and evaluate your employability and dental assisting skills.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): APHY 160, DENT 159, DENT 166, DNTL 167, DNTL 168, DNTL 169, DNTL 171, DNTL 172, DNTL 173
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum
RDGR 162
Radiography 2
2
Show course details
You will study the theory supporting the exposing, processing and interpreting of periapical, panoramic and occlusal images. You will learn how to take dental periapical and panoramic images for diagnostic purposes while following radiation safety measures and quality assurance procedures. You will also operate automatic radiographic film processors and digital imaging software. You will learn to mount dental images.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): DENT 166, DNTL 167, RDGR 161
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab

Semester 3

Code
Name/Description
Credits
 
CLIN 111
Clinical Dental Assisting Practice 2
3
Show course details
You will perform clinical dental assisting skills for client care and dental office reception skills in the Saskatchewan Polytechnic Dental Assisting Clinic. You will discuss the application of professional standards and plan for employment. You will achieve competence required of an entry-level dental assistant.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Prerequisites(s): CLIN 110, DENT 180, DENT 282, DNTL 174, DNTL 262, PATH 262, PRAC 115, RDGR 162
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum
DNTL 175
Provisional Crowns
1
Show course details
You will fabricate crown matrices and produce, cement and remove custom provisional crowns on dental manikins.
Credit Units: 1
Course Hours: 15.0
Prerequisites(s): CLIN 110, DENT 180, DENT 282, DNTL 174, DNTL 262, PATH 262, PRAC 115, RDGR 162
Equivalent Course(s): DENT 261
Potential Learning Method(s): Lab/Practical
DNTL 261
Preventive Dentistry
3
Show course details
You will acquire the knowledge and skills required to assess, plan, implement and evaluate personal oral self care plans for clients in a clinical setting. You will develop a dental assisting care plan specific to client needs with emphasis on oral self care and nutritional recommendations. You will use oral health promotion strategies to meet the needs of a community group.
Credit Units: 3
Course Hours: 45.0
Prerequisites(s): DENT 159, DNTL 262, CLIN 110, CLIN 111(concurrent)
Corequisites(s):
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab
PRAC 274
Dental Assisting Practicum A
2
Show course details
You will collaborate with a dental team in a general dental practice to enhance the development of your clinical skills. You will take responsibility for identifying your own learning needs and apply learning strategies. A focus will be on employability skills and confidently performing chairside dental assistant skills. You will work under the mentorship of a licenced dental assistant who, in partnership with the dentist, will offer feedback and evaluate your dental assisting skills.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): CLIN 110, DENT 180, DENT 282, DNTL 174, DNTL 262, PATH 262, RDGR 162, PRAC 115
Equivalent Course(s): PRAC 265
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum
PRAC 275
Dental Assisting Practicum B
4
Show course details
In a general dental practice, you will perform the roles of the dental assistant to prepare you to transition to an employment situation. You will work under the mentorship of a licensed dental assistant who, in partnership with the dentist, will offer feedback and evaluate your dental assisting skills.
Credit Units: 4
Course Hours: 60.0
Prerequisites(s): CLIN 111(concurrent), DNTL 175(concurrent), DNTL 261(concurrent), PRAC 274(concurrent), RDGR 163(concurrent)
Potential Learning Method(s): Clinical/Practicum
RDGR 163
Radiography 3
2
Show course details
You will produce maxillary and mandibular images on a manikin using the occlusal technique. You will also mount full mouth surveys and identify anatomic landmarks. You will produce full mouth radiographic surveys on manikins using the paralleling and bisecting techniques.
Credit Units: 2
Course Hours: 30.0
Prerequisites(s): RDGR 162
Potential Learning Method(s): Lecture/Lab

PLAR & Transfer Credit

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Saskatchewan Polytechnic recognizes that adults learn in many different ways and through many different means. This includes acquiring knowledge and skills through life and work experience or non-formal training.


Transfer Credit

Many Sask Polytech students benefit from transferring course credit. You may be eligible to transfer credit from or to another college or university. Learn more about Transfer Credit.

Student Awards

Thanks to the generosity of donors and alumni, Saskatchewan Polytechnic gives away more than $2 million in student awards during the academic year.

Saskatchewan Polytechnic offers student awards for every certificate and diploma program at every campus. You don't have to be a brainiac to receive a student award. Not all student awards are based on marks - some are based on financial need or things like community or volunteer involvement.

More about scholarships

Accreditation

Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada

This program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada. As a graduate, you’re eligible to write the National Dental Assisting Examining Board exam. Examination success allows you to license with the Saskatchewan Dental Assistants’ Association as well as to work anywhere in Canada.

Additional Information

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