Several Pennsylvania technology centers and community colleges offer undergraduate certificate or diploma programs for aspiring dental assistants or expanded function dental assistants (EFDAs). A few schools also offer associate degree programs. EFDA programs are typically designed for existing licensed dental hygienists or certified dental assistants. Programs combine clinical experiences, lab work and classroom training. The programs listed in this article have been accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry.
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology
This institute is situated in Pleasant Gap. It offers a dental assisting program that includes 900 hours of instruction. Students in this program learn about subjects like oral pathology, sterilization techniques and radiology. Graduates are eligible to take the state's radiology certification exam as well as the Certified Dental Assistant exam offered by the Dental Assistant National Board.
Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center
The Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center is located in Altoona. The center offers an Expanded Function Dental Assistant Certificate program that consists of 66 credits of study. In addition to coursework, students in this program complete clinical education experiences. The program is designed to lead to an associate's degree and is offered through a partnership with Mount Aloysius College.
The school also offers a short-term, evening EFDA certificate program that isn't designed to transfer to an associate's degree program. This program provides 204 hours of classroom and clinical training, and students who complete this training receive 6 credits.
This college is located in Bryn Mawr and enrolls about 1,500 students. It offers a 43-credit dental assisting certificate and a dental assisting/EFDA associate's degree that requires 72 credits. Students in these programs complete classes covering topics like basic dental science, anatomy and dental materials. They also complete a practicum.
The college also offers an EFDA program for dental assistants through its continuing studies division. This program's curriculum includes lectures, labs and a clinical experience at the individual's place of work. Lectures and lab classes are held on Saturdays. Students in the program learn about crown and bridge temporary restorations, rubber dam applications and amalgam restorations.
Harrisburg Area Community College
Harrisburg Area Community College is situated in Harrisburg and enrolls about 23,000 students. The school offers a Dental Assistant Certificate program that requires 40 credits of study. Classes in this program cover topics like radiology, oral anatomy and dental specialties. The program's curriculum also includes two clinical experiences.
The college also offers an EFDA certificate program that is designed for licensed dental hygienists or certified dental assistants. This program consists of two courses and prepares graduates to take the exam required for certification in the state. The first course in this program consists of lectures and lab work and is held in the evenings. The second course consists of a clinical experience.
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center
Lancaster County Career and Technology Center is located in Willow Street. It offers a dental assistant program that includes 1,080 hours of instruction. The curriculum includes lectures and clinical experiences. Students in the program learn about pharmacology, dental office business procedures and dental anatomy.
Lebanon County Area Vocational Technical School
This school is located in Lebanon. It offers an adult dental assistant program that is available in a full-time evening or full-time daytime format. Classes in these programs focus on subjects like dental assisting, dental radiology, dental office practice and dental specialties.
Luzerne County Community College
This community college is located in Nanticoke and enrolls approximately 6,700 students. It offers a Certificate of Specialization in Dental Assisting and an EFDA diploma. The certificate program consists of 35 credits of study in classes such as dental practice management, chair side assisting and dental anatomy. The diploma program requires 17 credits of study in classes such as anatomy, physiology and the foundations of expanded functions dental assisting.
Manor College is located in Jenkintown. The school offers an Associate of Science in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting that requires 72 credit hours of study. Classes in this program focus on subjects like nutrition, psychology, dental science and practice management. During their studies, students engage in lab work and complete clinical experiences. The school also offers an evening EFDA certification program designed to fit the schedules of working dental hygienists and dental assistants.
Westmoreland County Community College
This community college is located in Youngwood and enrolls about 7,000 students. It offers a Diploma in Dental Assisting and a Certificate in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting. The diploma program requires 42 credits of study. Classes in the program focus on subjects like dental materials for dental assisting, dental science and oral anatomy.
Admission to the certificate program is available to licensed dental hygienists, certified dental assistants with at least six months of chair side dental assisting experience and individuals with three years of chair side assisting experience. The program consists of lectures, labs and a clinical experience. Lectures and lab classes are held in the evenings.
Pennsylvania does not require that dental assistants be licensed, registered or certified. However, the state requires that EFDAs be certified by the State Board of Dentistry. To become a certified EFDA, an individual must be at least 18 years old and must have completed an associate's degree from an accredited institution, a training program that included at least 75 hours of instruction in restorative functions or a certification program that included at least 200 hours of instruction from an accredited institution. Certification also requires a passing grade on an exam. Nine public or private, non-profit institutions in Pennsylvania offer dental assisting programs, and this article addresses these nine schools.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Dental Assisting Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology||<2-year, public; fringe rural||Dental Assistant Program||$9,670*|
|Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center||< 2-year, public; small city|| Full-Time, Expanded Function Dental Assistant Certificate Program,
Short-Term, Evening Expanded Function Dental Assistant Certificate Program
|Harcum College||2-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb|| Dental Assisting Certificate,
Expanded Function Dental Assistant Program,
Dental Assisting with Expanded Function Dental Assistant Associate Degree
|Harrisburg Area Community College||2-year, public; small city|| Dental Assistant Certificate,
Expanded Functions Dental Auxiliary Certificate
|$6,683 for in-district, $7,935 for in-state and $9,435 for out-of-state students***|
|Lancaster County Career and Technology Center||<2-year, public; large suburb||Dental Assistant Program||$10,200****|
|Lebanon County Area Vocational Technical School||<2-year, public; small suburb||Adult Dental Assistant Program (daytime and evening programs offered)||$12,300***|
|Luzerne County Community College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate of Specialization in Dental Assisting,
Diploma in Expanded Function Dental Assisting
|$5,430 for in-district, $9,660 for in-state and $13,890 for out-of-state students***|
|Manor College||2-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb|| Evening EFDA Certification Program,
Associate of Science in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting
|Westmoreland County Community College||2-year, public; fringe rural|| Diploma in Dental Assisting,
Certificate in Expanded Functions Dental Assisting
|$5,214 for in-district, $9,348 for in-state and $13,338 for out-of-state students***|
Sources: *Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, **Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center, ***College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, ****Lancaster County Career and Technology Center.