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Dental Administration School Program Information

Get information on diploma programs and associate's degree programs that can lead to a career in dental administration. Learn about program requirements, typical courses and potential career avenues for graduates.

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Essential Information

Diploma programs in dental assisting combine administrative-focused coursework with hands-on practice. Graduates of these programs are often prepared to work in both the administrative and clinical settings of a dental office. They may be prepared for state certification as dental assistants. Associate's programs in dental office management may focus solely on administrative topics, like insurance coding or dental terminology, with fewer opportunities for clinical experience than diploma programs. Before choosing a program, students should decide whether they want to specialize in only dental office administration or both administrative and clinical applications.

Dental Assisting Diploma

Offered at community colleges, technical institutes and trade schools, dental assisting programs usually take at least one year to complete. The program's administrative portion introduces students to basic receptionist responsibilities, business office systems, records management and patient scheduling. In addition to front office skills, student gain entry-level knowledge of sterilization methods, infection control, anatomy and basic chair-side procedures.

Education Prerequisites

Dental assisting programs require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent and submit official transcripts along with a completed application. Official transcripts must show coursework in basic math and science.

Program Coursework

Dental assisting programs include classroom instruction, lab work and clinical hands-on experiences that emphasize dental office management and chair-side assisting. The clinical portion typically requires students to complete a set number of externship hours. Required coursework usually includes:

  • Oral health and nutrition
  • Dental office management
  • Dental radiology
  • Patient care
  • Laboratory practices and procedures

Popular Career Options

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assisting jobs are predicted to grow by 31% between 2010 and 2020. Graduates from dental assisting programs are qualified to perform front office duties and provide hands-on assistance to professional dentists, and typically find job opportunities such as:

  • Dental insurance clerks
  • Dental laboratory technicians
  • Dental supply sales representatives
  • Dental office managers
  • Receptionists
  • Dental assistants

Continuing Education Information

Most states regulate what duties can be performed by dental assistants, and approximately 30 require dental assistants to receive certification through the Dental Assisting National Board. Continuing education credits are an important requirement of certification and recertification. After completing an entry-level dental assisting program some students will choose to continue their education and become dental hygienists.

Associate Degree in Dental Office Management

Dental office management programs introduce students to basic dental practices and technologies within the field. Required coursework helps students develop skills in time management, customer service, human relations, critical thinking and teamwork in order to effectively perform the day-to-day administrative duties required in a dental office.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED and submit official high school transcripts with their completed application. Most colleges also encourage potential students to schedule an informal interview with an admissions counselor prior to enrollment.

Program Coursework

Programs in dental office management provide students with introductory professional courses in dental administration, a foundation in liberal arts studies and courses that help develop analytical skills. Typical coursework includes:

  • Dental terminology
  • Dental office hygiene
  • Dental insurance coding and reimbursement
  • Business math
  • Medical privacy and ethics
  • Computer applications

Popular Career Options

An associate degree in dental office management prepares students for entry-level positions in dental offices, clinics and other dental facilities. Job opportunities in the field include:

  • Dental office manager
  • Dental insurance coder
  • Dental claims specialist
  • Appointment scheduler or receptionist

Continuing Education Information

As with most graduates of an associate degree program, students can choose to enter the workplace immediately or transfer to a 4-year institution to pursue higher levels of education. Professionals in dental administration are sometimes called upon to attend training courses covering topics such as new software applications, privacy laws and work flow management.

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