Dental assisting programs in Florida are offered through undergraduate certificate, diploma and associate degree programs, though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that dental assistants usually earn a diploma or certificate. Certificate programs can be completed in 10-12 months. Diploma programs may require students to complete 50 credit hours, while associate degree programs call for additional courses in general education and elective subjects and can total 70 credit hours. Programs may have limited enrollment, and applicants may need training in CPR or basic life support to be considered for admission.
Broward College is located in Fort Lauderdale and offers a dental assisting certificate program that can be completed in 10 months of full-time study. During the first term, students take courses in dental radiography, dental materials, dental anatomy and preventative dentistry. Students in their second term learn to perform clinical procedures. Graduates might qualify for the expanded functions credential. Beginning with the fall 2013 term, the dental assisting certificate program is slated to become an advanced technical diploma program.
College of Central Florida
Students who complete the 50-credit program in dental assisting through this Ocala school earn a technical diploma. Those who'd like to earn an associate's degree take the same dental assisting curriculum plus general education classes. Coursework includes anatomy, physiology, dental procedures, dental radiography, dental materials, office management skills and oral pathology. Lab sessions and clinical training are also required. This program has limited enrollment; prerequisites include CPR certification.
Daytona State College
Daytona State College is located in Daytona Beach and offers a dental assisting certificate program that teaches students about dental instrument sterilization, oral health, patient records, dental radiographs and infection control. Students take courses in chairside assisting, biomedical science, dental anatomy, dental radiology, preventative dentistry, nutrition and practice management. An externship is required. Graduates are qualified to perform both office and dental procedures. Program prerequisites include attendance at an introduction to dental assisting class, a documented minimum period of observation in a dental office and possession of Basic Life Support certification.
Florida State College at Jacksonville
Florida State College at Jacksonville offers a 1-year dental assisting certificate program through Florida Coast Career Tech, which is a division of the school. Courses teach students about recording patient vital signs, chairside dental assisting, dental radiography, infection control, dental emergencies and dental materials. Graduates of the program are prepared for the expanded functions credential from the Florida Board of Dentistry.
Hillsborough Community College
Located in Tampa, Hillsborough Community College features a dental assisting certificate program that requires 1,230 contact hours and also covers training in expanded functions. Students learn about dental impressions, teeth polishing, oral conditions, office management, sealants and fluoride treatments. The program takes one year to complete.
Indian River State College
Indian River State College is located in Fort Pierce. It offers diploma and associate's degree programs in dental assisting technology and management. Both the diploma and degree programs require that students complete 50 credits of dental assisting courses that include training in expanded functions. The associate's degree program also requires general education requirements and electives. Students learn about dental materials, clinical procedures, dental anatomy, preventative dentistry, dental office management and dental radiography. Students who complete the program are qualified to earn the expanded functions credential.
Palm Beach State College
Students at Palm Beach State College can pursue a 19-credit dental assisting program that requires 776 clock hours. The school is located in Lake Worth, and the program can be completed in 10 months. Students can transfer the credits earned in the certificate program to the dental hygiene associate's degree program. This is the only accredited dental assisting program in the county. It also offers training for expanded functions certification.
Santa Fe College
Located in Gainesville, Santa Fe College has a dental assisting certificate program that can be completed in 10 months. The program requires that students complete 1,230 contact hours and combines academic learning with an internship. Courses cover dental procedures, including making impressions, polishing crowns, taking impressions and processing x-rays. Students also learn about scheduling patients and ordering supplies. Clinical training takes place at the school's dental clinic. Students are prepared to earn expanded functions credentials.
Tallahassee Community College
In Tallahassee, Florida's state capital, Tallahassee Community College offers a 1,230-hour dental assisting program that can be completed in three semesters. Students take courses in dental anatomy, dental materials, dental radiology, dental office emergencies, nitrous oxide monitoring and office management.
All of the dental assisting programs featured below are accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Graduates of these programs should be qualified to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board's voluntary Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam.
To perform dental radiographic procedures, Florida dental assistants must earn state certification as an Expanded Functions Dental Assistant (EFDA). Qualifications include completion of a CODA-approved educational program or a state-approved expanded duties training program. While there are more than 50 schools in Florida that offer dental assisting programs, these are 10 of the largest 2- and 4-year colleges.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Dental Assisting Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2018-2019)|
|Broward College||4-year, public; large suburb||Applied Technology Diploma in Dental Assisting|| $2,830 in-state,
|College of Central Florida||4-year, public; urban|| Applied Technology Diploma in Dental Assisting Technology and Management,
Associate in Science in Dental Assisting Technology and Management
| $2,570 in-state,
|Daytona State College||4-year, public; small city||Vocational Certificate in Dental Assisting|| $3,104 in-state,
|Florida State College at Jacksonville||4-year, public; large city||Workforce Certificate in Dental Assisting||$2,878 in-state; $9,992 out-of-state*|
|Hillsborough Community College||2-year, public; large city||Dental Assisting Certificate||$2,506 in-state; $9,111 out-of-state*|
|Indian River State College||4-year, public; large suburb|| Applied Technology Diploma in Dental Assisting Technology and Management,
Associate in Science in Dental Assisting Technology and Management
| $2,764 in-state,
|Palm Beach State College||4-year, public; large suburb||Postsecondary Adult Vocational Certificate in Dental Assisting|| $2,444 in-state,
|Santa Fe College||4-year, public; midsize suburb||Vocational Certificate in Dental Assisting||$2,563 in-state; $9,189 out-of-state*|
|Tallahassee Community College||2-year, public; midsize city||Dental Assisting PSAV Certificate||$2,026 in-state; $8,062 out-of-state*|
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator.