Dental Assisting

2016-17 Edition

Sylvania Campus
Health Technology Building (HT), Room 206

Health Admissions Office
College Center (CC), Room 208

Career and Program Description

The dental assistant is a member of the dental team, working with and assisting the dentist and hygienist during clinical procedures. Traditional duties and responsibilities include: exposing and developing dental radiographs, mixing dental materials, organizing and preparing treatment rooms, passing dental instruments and materials to the dentist, taking impressions, preparing, placing and removing rubber dams, placing topical anesthetic, fluoride and desensitizing agents, sterilizing instruments, disinfecting dental equipment, comforting patients during dental appointments and educating patients on various dental procedures. Graduates are also prepared to perform the following expanded duties: polish teeth and restorations, fabricate and cement temporary crowns, remove cement, place temporary restorations, place and remove matrix retainers, place sealants, perform temporary denture relines, place retraction cord and various orthodontic duties.

Computer skills are an important asset to a dental assistant. Students should be familiar with basic computer key boarding skills.  Dental computer programs are learned in the office procedures courses.

The Dental Assisting program is a limited entry program with restricted enrollment. The program is limited to 45 students. Applications are accepted from October 1 to April 15. Application forms may be obtained at and should be submitted along with high school and college transcripts to:

Health Admissions Office
Sylvania Campus, (HT) Room 205
Portland Community College
P.O. Box 19000
Portland, Oregon 97280-0990

For information call 971-722-4795 or check the website

Candidates will be notified of their admission status by late May. 

Degrees and Certificates Offered

One-Year Certificate

Dental Assisting

Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Admission Prerequisites

Academic Prerequisites

  • High school diploma or college transcripts showing a minimum 2.0 GPA, or GED.
  • Completion of the following courses or their equivalents, with a C or better, is required to be considered for application to the Dental Assisting Program.
    • WR 115 or higher level writing course (Placement into WR 121 can substitute for the WR 115 course).
    • Approved college level nutrition course or health course with a nutrition component. Recommended classes include HE 250, HE 295 and PE 295 or FN 225.
    • Placement into MTH 20 or higher.
    • Approved college-level Psychology course. PSY 101 is recommended.
  • Pass/No Pass grades are not acceptable in prerequisites.
  • The Dental Assisting program is a limited entry program with restricted enrollment.
    • The program is limited to 45 students. Applications are accepted from October 1 to April 15. Application forms may be obtained at and should be submitted along with high school and college transcripts to:
      • Health Admissions Office
        Sylvania Campus, (HT) Room 205
        Portland Community College
        P.O. Box 19000
        Portland, Oregon 97280-0990
      • For information call 971-722-4795 or check the website
        Candidates will be notified of their admission status by late May.

Other Prerequisites

  • 12 hours of shadowing in a dental office or clinic facility that is documented by dentist's signature with the dentist's business card attached.
  • Applicants should have all courses and job shadowing complete by the end of winter term. Courses planned for spring term may not be considered. It is the applicant’s responsibility to update their information by providing final grades of courses which are in progress at the time of application.
  • All students are required to be immunized against Hepatitis B as well as evidence of immunity to measles, tetanus immunization and current tuberculin skin test (TST). Test must be within previous 12 months. Positive TST will require evidence of normal chest x-ray (supply upon acceptance).
  • A Valid (Current) Healthcare Provider CPR that includes Adult, Child, Infant and AED is required.

Program Requirements

Academic Requirements

  • None

Other Requirements

  • Criminal Background Check
    • All PCC students enrolled in a health care or child care program, including Dental Assisting, with requirements for practical experience of field training must pass a Criminal History Check (CHC) and a drug screen as a condition of their acceptance into a medical or other facility for training.
    • Students who do not pass the CHC and drug screen are not eligible to complete training at affiliated practicum sites, to sit for licensure or certification exams; or be hired for some professional positions. If you believe that your past history may interfere with your ability to complete the program of study or to obtaining licensure, or certification in your chosen field, you should contact the appropriate state board or program director.
  • The Dental Assisting Certificate prepares the student for job entry with State and National certification in dental radiology, basic dental assisting and expanded function dental assisting.
  • Students enrolled in the Dental Assisting Program perform exposure prone procedures and are required to wear safety glasses, gloves, face masks and protective clothing during all laboratory and clinic activities that produce airborne particulate matter, or expose students to patients during dental procedures. An exposure prone procedure is one in which there is an increased opportunity for the exchange of blood borne pathogens between the patient and the dental health care provider because of the kind of procedure being performed.
  • Safety policies, procedures and protocols are taught and followed according to OSHA regulations and CDC Standards to provide a safe learning and patient care environment. The program policies on blood borne pathogens and infectious disease are available to applicants upon request. Upon acceptance to the program, extensive training in this area will occur.
  • Applicants who have an infectious disease or who are carriers of an infectious disease should seek counsel from their physician and the program director prior to application. The college follows CDC suggested work restrictions for health-care personnel infected with or exposed to major infectious diseases in health care settings, from the CDC’s Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Healthcare Settings–2003 available at, Table 1, attached to and incorporated by this reference to this policy.
  • All aspects of the Dental Assisting Program are continually assessed to provide on-going excellence and continuing improvement, and are subject to change.

For Academic Year 2017-2018, applicants will be required to take MP 111 (Medical Terminology) prior to enrolling. This course is offered online and Face-to-Face every term at all Portland Community College Campuses.

Dental Assisting One-Year Certificate

Minimum 45 credits. Students must meet all certificate requirements.

Course of Study

The coursework listed below is required. The following is an example of a term-by-term breakdown.

First TermCredits
DA 110§Clinical Procedures I3
DA 111§Clinical Procedures I (Lab)2
DA 116Introduction to Dental Assisting2
DA 120§Dental Radiology I2
DA 121§Dental Radiology I (Lab)2
DA 130Dental Materials I1
DA 131§Dental Materials I (Lab)2
DA 140AIntegrated Basic Science I2
DA 140BIntegrated Basic Science II1
Second Term
DA 112Clinical Procedures II1
DA 113§Clinical Procedures II (Lab)3
DA 118§Expanded Duties I1
DA 122Dental Radiology II1
DA 123§Dental Radiology II (Lab)2
DA 133§Dental Materials II (Lab)2
DA 132§Dental Materials II1
DA 142Integrated Basic Science III2
DA 150§Dental Office Procedures I2
Third Term
DA 114Clinical Procedures III1
DA 115§Clinical Procedures Lab III5
DA 119§Expanded Duties II1
DA 125Dental Radiology III (Lab)2
DA 135§Dental Materials III (Lab)2
DA 152§Dental Office Procedures II2
 Total Credits: 45

Course cannot be substituted with another course.

DA 110. Clinical Procedures I. 3 Credits.

Introduction to clinical dental assisting including operatory preparation, sterilization/disinfection procedures, dental equipment, tray set-ups and restorative dental procedures.

DA 111. Clinical Procedures I (Lab). 2 Credits.

Laboratory training and experience in basic dental assisting functions and responsibilities. Students progress to assisting dentists in the dental clinics.

DA 112. Clinical Procedures II. 1 Credit.

Intermediate clinical dental assisting with instruction in oral examination, charting and other procedures. PREREQ: DA 110.

DA 113. Clinical Procedures II (Lab). 3 Credits.

Continued clinic and laboratory experience. Students spend 1 (one) day per week assisting dental students at the Oregon Health Sciences University Dental School.

DA 114. Clinical Procedures III. 1 Credit.

Advanced clinical dental assisting with instruction in dental specialty procedures.

DA 115. Clinical Procedures Lab III. 5 Credits.

Advanced clinical experience, including dental specialty procedures. Students spend three days per week in dental office internships.

DA 116. Introduction to Dental Assisting. 2 Credits.

Covers medical emergencies, pharmacology and ethical standards established by the dental professions and legal responsibilities of the dental assistant and the dentist as established by the Oregon Dental Practice Act. Prerequisites: acceptance into the dental assisting program.

DA 118. Expanded Duties I. 1 Credit.

Study of the function and procedures beyond the scope of general dental assisting as allowed by the Oregon Dental Practice Act. Includes amalgam polishing and margination, rubber dam placement and removal.

DA 119. Expanded Duties II. 1 Credit.

Continued study of expanded duties to include coronal polishing, cement removal, and other areas needed to meet changes in the field.

DA 120. Dental Radiology I. 2 Credits.

Introduction to the uses of radiographic images in dentistry, including the history, physical and chemical properties, biological effects and safety principles.

DA 121. Dental Radiology I (Lab). 2 Credits.

Practices radiographic techniques on manikins and correlate activities to the DA 120 lecture.

DA 122. Dental Radiology II. 1 Credit.

Continued study of the philosophy and principles of dental radiography with review and preparation for National and State certification examinations.

DA 123. Dental Radiology II (Lab). 2 Credits.

Continued experience with radiographic techniques on manikins and clinic patients under direct supervision.

DA 125. Dental Radiology III (Lab). 2 Credits.

Advanced x-ray clinical experience to include extra-oral and x-rays for children and edentulous patients. Radiographic experience during private practice internships.

DA 130. Dental Materials I. 1 Credit.

Basic physical and chemical properties of dental materials including resins, gypsum products, impression materials, waxes, cements and bases.

DA 131. Dental Materials I (Lab). 2 Credits.

Lab activities prepare students in the proper handling and manipulation of the materials studied in DA 130 lecture.

DA 132. Dental Materials II. 1 Credit.

Continued study of dental materials to include those used specifically in the processes of crown and bridge construction.

DA 133. Dental Materials II (Lab). 2 Credits.

Students continue to develop skills in the handling and manipulation of dental materials as described in the DA 132 lecture.

DA 135. Dental Materials III (Lab). 2 Credits.

Advanced laboratory activities designed to improve proficiency and efficiency in the handling and manipulation of dental materials. Students apply knowledge and skills in dental office internships.

DA 140A. Integrated Basic Science I. 2 Credits.

Covers basic principles of oral anatomy plus study of tooth form and function. Introduces dental numbering systems and charting. Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Dental Assisting program. Prerequisite/concurrent: DA 140B.

DA 140B. Integrated Basic Science II. 1 Credit.

Covers fundamental principles of human anatomy and physiology as they relate to the care of patients in the dental setting. Introduces dental embryology, microbiology and pathology. Prerequisite: Acceptance to the Dental Assisting Program. Prerequisite/concurrent: DA 140A.

DA 142. Integrated Basic Science III. 2 Credits.

Covers specialized study of the structures of the head and neck with emphasis on the oral cavity including study of Oral Pathology. Prerequisites: Acceptance into the Dental Assisting Program. Successful completion of DA 140A and DA 140B or other accepted college level Anatomy and Physiology Course.

DA 150. Dental Office Procedures I. 2 Credits.

Overview of procedures associated with reception desk responsibilities and dental office management.

DA 152. Dental Office Procedures II. 2 Credits.

Comprehensive course that includes oral and written communication, computer skills and job search techniques. All study is related to dentistry. Recommended: typing/keyboarding skills.

DA 9406. Dental Assisting Practicum. 1-5 Credit.

Upgrading for dental assistants who have been out of the field for a prolonged period of time, or who feel their skills are out of date.