Online Courses for Dental Assistants
The course descriptions below highlight the curriculum of commonly offered online dental assistant courses.
- Dental Terminology and Anatomy Course: This course familiarizes students with terminology used in a dental office, and teaches the anatomy of the mouth, neck and throat. Students discuss tooth structure, types of teeth and tooth surfaces. Accurate data recording through the use of charts is another focus of this course.
- Dental Laws and Ethics Course: Students taking this course learn about specific laws and ethical concerns pertaining to dentistry. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a topic of discussion. Students learn why the protection of patient records, security and privacy is of utmost importance.
- Infection Control and Safety Course: Infection control courses focus on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, infection control procedures and sterilization techniques. Specific instruments used in a dental office, such as dental burs, and their safe use are discussed. The course also covers proper dental office attire and protective equipment. This course may require travel to a dental office setting for practical exposure and application.
- Dental Assisting Course: This course teaches students how to care for patients, assist dentists and handle emergency situations. Tray and instrument setup, sedation and anesthesia and chair-side assistance are all topics discussed in this course. Dental pharmacology is discussed to familiarize students with drugs commonly administered for dental office procedures.
- Radiology Course: In this advanced dental assisting course, students examine radiation safety, protection and equipment. Students learn how to accurately and safely perform diagnostic X-rays.
- Dental Materials Course: Dental materials examined in this class include cements, bases, liners and bonding agents commonly used during dental procedures. Students study restorative materials and mixing techniques. Cavity preparation and impression-making are also discussed. This course may require a lab component.
- Medical Insurance and Billing Course: In this course, students learn about standard billing procedure and the rules governing insurance. Insurance-focused coursework includes an overview of common insurance claim forms, along with instruction on how to analyze and identify fraudulent claims. Billing coursework, meanwhile, familiarizes students with basic bookkeeping and patient billing practices.
- Front Office Management Course: This course familiarizes aspiring dental assistants with the activities that they must conduct in the front office of a dental facility. Topics include scheduling appointments, providing references to other dental providers and transferring records.
- Clinical Records Management Course: In this course, students learn how to manage patient records in a dental office. They learn about filing system setup, computerized charting, records retention and information loss prevention and recovery.
Online dental assistant courses may be offered as part of dental assisting certificate or diploma programs, as well as for continuing education credits, certification and recertification. Hybrid programs may include a practical learning component that takes place in a dental office setting.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) offers dental assistant certification that is recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). This certification fulfills most state educational requirements for licensure and registration. Students should look for programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), which is a requirement for certification.
Individuals who want to work as dental assistants can find online preparation programs that cover the basics of dental medicine, as well as administrative practices within the field. They typically lead to an undergraduate certificate and can prepare students for professional certification.