Dental Assistant

Canadian Schools offering Dental Assistant Programs

Dental assistants are frequently confused with dental hygienists. However, these are two different roles. Dental hygienists are primarily responsible for examining and cleaning the gums and teeth. Dental assistants are concerned with the preparation of instruments, equipment and the patient. Additionally, they have several very important functions that include the following.

  • Applying topical anaesthetic
  • Removing and inserting materials into the mouth as needed
  • Processing X-rays

Dental assistants also aid dentists during surgery or other procedures. They assist dentists by applying rinse or suction and handing down instruments. In Canada, job prospects for this career are fair. This is due to the increasing awareness of oral hygiene among Canadians.

Entrance Requirements

A secondary school graduate certificate is required to enter this program. These degrees must include an emphasis on science subjects such as chemistry and biology. Additionally, some programs require students to maintain a valid Level C CPR certificate. Their high school records must also show a minimum of a C in English 12. At the same time, they must get a minimum of a C in one of these science subjects.

  • Biology 11
  • Chemistry 11
  • Biology 12
  • Chemistry 12

Applicants may also have an Adult Provincial Basic Education Certificate. Grades must include at least a C in English 091 or 090. Aside from that, applicants must also have a minimum of a C in one of these science courses.

  • Biology 080
  • Chemistry 090
  • Biology 090
  • Chemistry 080

Some schools also require their students to complete a Criminal Record Search,  the results of this may prevent a student from participating in a practicum, a requirement for most programs.

After being admitted to the program, applicants must also complete a dental screening form. This form must be signed by a dentist. It should also be completed by the applicant. This should be returned to instructors during the first day of class. This allows students to act as patients for their classmates during their clinical sessions.

Dental Assistant Accreditation

There are 27 accredited training programs in Canada for dental assistants. Dental assistant training program accreditation is done by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (http://www.cda-adc.ca). This organization was set up in 1988 to maintain the highest dental education standards in Canada.

Duration of Education

Dental assistant training programs usually lasts for a year. All students participate in every clinical practicum. This is done to maximize learning in conjunction with the program’s theoretical component. Additionally, students must be actively involved in clinical assignments in dental offices.

In their first semester, students are taught the following subjects.

  • Dental Radiography I
  • Nutrition I
  • Dental Materials
  • Orofacial Anatomy
  • Professional Ethics
  • Clinical I
  • Preventive Dentistry and Health
  • General and Oral Microbiology

The subjects taught in the first semester are very important. They are the fundamentals that every dental assistant student must know. Without them, students will have trouble grasping the basics during their clinicals.

There are several courses that students must take in the second semester of their training programs.

  • Dental Health Education
  • Pharmacology
  • Dental Materials II
  • Clinical II
  • Dental Radiography II
  • Dental Practice Management
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Special Procedure and Emergency Care
  • Nutrition II
  • Dental Radiography II

In their third semester, students only take three subjects.

  • Clinical Theory III
  • Dental Office Consolidation
  • Clinical Practice III

In their third and final semester, more focus is placed on the clinical setting. Every Canadian dental assistant training program provides an on-campus dental clinic. These clinics offer a practical environment for learning. At the same time, the final semester provides an intensive training course that combines a practicum and clinical experience. This enables students to graduate with work experience.


Across Canada, the dental assistant profession is treated as a restricted occupation. A lot of Canadian provinces also require dental assistants to be registered and licensed. With the exception of Quebec, all provinces require initial registrants to take the National Dental Assisting Examining Board Exams. These exams are conducted to determine the competence of individuals who want to be dental assistants. People who pass this exam will be given the NDAEB certificate. This certificate proves that an individual is competent enough to be a dental assistant. It also does not need annual renewal. At the same time, passing this exam will make students a Certified Dental Assistant or CDA.


Dental assistants also have the option to study certain specializations in their field. Having specialized training will make them a more competitive applicant for employment. The ability to conduct coronal polishing procedures is one of the qualifying criterions used by dentists. This ability is very useful since it frees up more time for the dentist. There are several specializations that are available for dental assistants

Restorative Dental Assisting

This is a very wide term that encompasses a number of tasks and duties. It refers to saving teeth through crowns, fillings, root canals and other materials. This procedure is also touched on by teachers at every Canadian dental assistant college along with coronal polishing training. However, many dentists look for assistants with certified qualifications and a higher level of expertise.

Preventive Function Dental Assistants

Dental assistants who specialize in this field are highly skilled in the removal and placement of rubber dams. At the same time, they conduct preliminary assessments of teeth for study purposes. They are also well versed in the topical administration of anti-cariogenic agents.

Oral Surgery Dental Assisting

These professionals are responsible for preparing patients and surgery areas for operations. Their duties include recording and taking vital signs such as respiration and blood pressure rates. They also assist dentists by handing out surgical instruments and preparing surgical dressings.

Orthodontic Dental Assisting

Orthodontist dental assistants work with patients wearing or receiving dental gear. They may take photos and X-rays of mouths, make teeth impressions and adjust braces. They also maintain patient records and order dental supplies.

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