Dental Assisting

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Dental Assisting

Graduate with Real-World Dental Experience

Dental assistants help the dentist at chairside and also perform functions such as polishing teeth, taking X-rays, mixing materials, and sterilizing instruments. Some assistants also manage the office and patient accounts, schedule appointments, and purchase supplies.

During this one-year program, you will gain classroom, laboratory, and hands-on experience by working with patients at the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa and in private dental offices.

You have the option to earn your one-year diploma first, then go on to take additional courses to earn your associate's degree.

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Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships each year. Students in this program may be eligible to have half their tuition paid for by the Kibbie Grant.

Graduates of the Dental Assisting program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate fundamental clinic skills
  • Employ lab activities
  • Demonstrate management functions
  • Use advanced clinical skills
  • Employ radiographic techniques
  • Demonstrate preventive functions
  • Demonstrate maintenance of treatment areas
  • Demonstrate essential skills

A one-hour program conference is required prior to acceptance to the program. You'll learn more about the program, specific admission requirements and have the opportunity to have questions answered by program faculty and staff.

Additional Program Requirements

To get into the Dental Assisting program, you must meet the following additional standards. These steps/requirements are in addition to Kirkwood's steps to become a student.

  • Attend a program conference
  • Apply to the program
  • Have placement test scores or course equivalents on file with the Allied Health office. If college-level placement is not met, students are recommended to meet with an advisor.

Kirkwood and Dental Assisting admissions policies and procedures are subject to change at any time. After all admissions criteria are met, students are accepted or placed on the waitlist to the Dental Assisting program.

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The Dental Assisting program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) and has been granted the accreditation status of compliance without reporting requirements.

The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. Successful completion of the program entitles graduates to take the National Dental Assistant Certification Examination.

Successful completion of this program qualifies you to test for licensure and/or certification in the state of Iowa. If your plans include working outside of Iowa, you’ll need to contact the state agency where you hope to work about licensure or certification information. Kirkwood does not determine whether program curriculum meets educational requirements for licensure/certification beyond the state of Iowa.

The mission of the Dental Assisting program is to prepare students to grow into competent and ethical professionals who are assets to the field of dentistry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Graduates with Dental Assisting degrees can obtain jobs in a variety of different career opportunities.

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Some of the classes may transfer; it depends on the school you choose to complete your Dental Hygiene program. Completion of the Dental Assisting program does not mean you only need to complete one more year in a Dental Hygiene program. Carefully check the requirements of the program you plan to enter.

No. The length of the program does not mean it is easy. It does mean that you are given a lot of information in a short period of time, which can sometimes make the program demanding.

Yes, it is legally possible for dental assistants to be trained on the job. However, many offices do not have the time or resources to accomplish this kind of training. As a rule, Dental Assisting graduates tend to receive a higher starting salary than someone who must be trained. No matter how a dental assistant is trained, it is always necessary to receive additional training in the office.

Yes. Students must be registered in the state of Iowa. For information on how to apply for this registration, call the Iowa Dental Board at 515-281-5157.

Yes, which is one of the many positive aspects of dental assisting. The duties vary based on the office in which you are employed.


Allied Health
2164 Linn Hall