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 in the on-campus Dental Clinic, as well as 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)$41,600 - $72,800

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 attend an Open House event 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

View latest program status info

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.
  • Accepted applicants are required to provide evidence of 2015 WHMIS Globally Harmonized System (GHS) certification upon admission into the program. Recertification will be required every three years to remain current. The cost of WHMIS certification is your responsibility.

 

*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©

  • 250 Arithmetic
  • 256 Reading
  • 250 Writing
  • 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 approximate cost for books and supplies. Visit the Tuition and Fees web page for a complete breakdown of tuition and fees for this program.

 

2020/21 Academic Year

$795 (Returning students)

Get Credit for What You Know

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Saskatchewan Polytechnic recognizes that adults learn in many different ways. This includes acquiring knowledge and skills through life and work experience or non-formal training.See links below to more information about PLAR and detailed PLAR candidate guides for the Arts and Sciences courses in this program. To discuss PLAR for other courses in this program, contact us at 1-866-467-4278 and ask for the Program Head of this program.


Transfer Credit

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

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. 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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