Dental Assistant

Program Outline

Instruction Sets
Your accredited learning program includes nine Instruction Sets designed to take you step-by-step through the knowledge and skills you'll employ in your new career as a Dental Assistant. You receive the first course as soon as your enrollment has been accepted, and other courses will follow as you complete your exams.

Computer Specifications
You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows®-based computer (or Mac equivalent) and high-speed Internet in order to complete your program with Penn Foster.

Here is an overview of what you'll learn and the order in which you'll access your lessons:

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal: The Dental Assistant career diploma program prepares students for an entry-level position as a Dental Assistant.

Program Outcomes:
Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the personal qualifications required to be a dental assistant along with the elements and principles of ethical decision making that underpin good clinical practice
  • Prepare patients for dental treatments
  • Identify the necessary materials and instruments for various types of dental treatments
  • Clean and sterilize dental instruments
  • Assist the dentist and/or dental hygienist by performing tasks such as handing them the proper equipment, using suction hoses to keep a patient's mouths dry, processing X-rays, properly noting dental charts, and dealing with emergency situations
  • Advise patients how to maintain proper dental hygiene
  • Describe how to follow HIPPA requirements while working in a dental office
  • Describe proper techniques to avoid the transmission of disease in the dental environment
  • Describe the process of an OSHA site visit
  • Identify and explain the various types of anesthesia used in the dental profession
  • Assist the dentist and/or dental hygienist during various types of composite restoration procedures and with the creation of crowns, bridges, inlays, onlays, and dentures
  • Identify and explain different instruments and procedures used in the specialty dental fields of endodontic, periodontics, pediatric, orthodontics, prosthodontics, and oral and maxillofacial surgery
  • Schedule and view appointments, maintain billing records, process insurance claims, maintain employee time cards, adhere to confidentiality requirements, and create e-claims using dental software

Instruction Set 1

Starting Your Program
Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program. Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages; access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers; and connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

Introduction to Dentistry and the Dental Assistant
Overview of the dental field and dental history; the dental team and their duties and responsibilities; the role of the dental assistant.

Instruction Set 2

Dental Terminology and Anatomy
Dental terminology; anatomy of the mouth and various parts of the mouth, neck, and throat; the structure of the tooth; types of teeth and their surfaces; charting.

Preventive Dentistry and Nutrition
Preventive dentistry and the role of good nutrition; dental plaque and its role in dental disease; nutrition and the use of vitamins.

Instruction Set 3

Cavity Classification and Charting
Healthy history form; the oral examinations; standardized system of charting dental conditions, tooth identification, and cavity classification; interpreting charting.

Dental Law and Ethics
Dental applications of ethics and the law; ethical issues in dentistry; HIPAA and its purpose; privacy, confidentiality, and security.

Learning Aids: Diagrams I; Red/blue pencil

Instruction Set 4

Dental Operatory: Patients, Instrumentation, Moisture Control
Introduction to the dental operatory; functions of rotary instruments; dental burs, stones, points, and discs; moisture control procedures.

Disease Transmission, Pathology, and Dental Emergencies
Disease transmission and microbiology; the most common dental emergencies and how to respond.

Infection Control
Proper infection control procedures; personnel attire and protective barriers; sterilization and disinfection procedures.

Learning Aids:
• Glasses
• Mouth mirror
• Bur samples
• Evacuator tips samples
• Air/water syringe tip samples
• Cotton roll samples
• Rubber dam material sample
• Napkin and bib clip
• Hu-Friedy Procedural Setup Guide
• Diagrams II
• Diagrams III
• Sample cleaning packets
• Gloves
• Mask sample

Instruction Set 5

OSHA Regulations
How OSHA guidelines influence infection control and what guidelines are relevant to the dental office; proper handling of waste from the dental office.

Radiology 1
Radiology; radiation safety and equipment; responsibilities of the dental staff; protection devices.

Radiology 2
Bisecting technique; properties of diagnostic-quality X-rays; preventing technical faults in radiographs.

Learning Aid: Diagram IV

Instruction Set 6

Pharmacology and Anesthesiology
Basic pharmacology and its relationship to the dental profession; general, local, and topical anesthesia.

Dental Materials 1
Dental materials and how they're used in restorations; principles of cavity preparation.

Dental Materials 2
Continues with dental materials; different impression materials; dental stone and plaster.

Learning Aids:
• Diagrams V
• Dental Mixes

Instruction Set 7

Dental Specialties 1: Endodontics/Periodontics
Stages of endodontic and periodontic treatment; root canal therapy; periodontal examination; dental implants.

Dental Specialties 2: Pediatrics/Orthodontics
Describes the pediatric dental specialty; emergency treatments.

Dental Specialties 3: Prosthodontics/Oral Surgery
Introduces the specialties of prosthodontics and oral surgery; procedures in prosthodontics; explains bridges, crowns, laboratory preparation, infection control; dentures.

Instruction Set 8

Communicating in the Dental Office
Discusses different types of communication; verbal and nonverbal communication techniques.

Business Administration for the Dental Assistant
Scheduling and appointment control; records management; dental charting and terminology; preventive recall; accounts receivable; bookkeeping; dental insurance; collections and payment plans.

Textbook: Business Administration for Dental Assistant

Instruction Set 9

Becoming a Professional
The professional dental assistant image; requirements for dental assisting; proper procedure for getting a job.

Practice Management Software
Students learn to use Practice-Web software, which includes appointment scheduling, clinical and perio charting, patient and insurance billing, and insurance plans.

Learning Aid: Practice Web Software

Online Supplements:
Work Experience Option
Getting a job; forms and materials needed to elect a work experience option; how and where jobs may be found; how to contact a dental office to arrange an interview.

Learning Contract and Student Evaluation
Forms will be filled out and returned to Penn Foster Career School by the dental office where the work experience is being taken; upon completion of the work experience program, the student will then receive a Certificate of Completion for the work experience option.

Graduation Set
(Sent to you when all program requirements and financial obligations have been met.)

Textbook: Complete Review of Dental Assisting


Online Library and Librarian
Students in Penn Foster Career School have access to an online library for use during their studies. Students can use this library to do the required research in the courses they complete or can use it for general reference and links to valuable resources. The library contains helpful research assistance, articles, databases, books, and Web links. A librarian is available to answer questions on general research-related topics via email and to assist students in research activities during their studies with Penn Foster Career School International.

A High School Diploma, Secondary School Diploma, or equivalent is required to enroll in this program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.