Jun 05, 2023  
2021-2022 UMA Catalog 
2021-2022 UMA Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Assisting

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Admissions: 1-877-UMA-1234 ext. 3465 or (207) 621-3465
Advising Center: 1-877-UMA-1234 ext. 3149 or (207) 621-3149
Coordinator: Amanda Willette
Website: www.uma.edu/academics/programs/dental-programs/dental-assisting/

Program Objectives

This program is designed for individuals who are interested in becoming members of the dental health care delivery system. The curriculum is designed to provide a broad educational experience in the theory and practice of dental assisting, as well as a background in biological sciences and the humanities.

The dental assisting student will be educated in four-handed dentistry and in duties which may be delegated to dental assistants, including dental radiography, oral health education and business office responsibilities. Students gain practical experience through clinical and laboratory sessions. Extramural clinical experience may be gained through the cooperation of private dental practices, clinics and community dental clinics throughout Maine. Students gain enrichment experiences through extramural rotation assignments in specialty dental practices and community dental clinics. In addition to the permanent faculty, staff is also drawn from practicing dentists and dental hygienists throughout the state.

The curriculum is designed to give the student a well-rounded foundation in health sciences, specific knowledge and clinical skills in the dental sciences, and an understanding in the humanities. The courses are particularly suited to those who have a sincere interest in science and enjoy working with people. The program emphasizes the knowledge and skills necessary for chairside dental assisting, but also prepares students to perform clinical support services, selected laboratory procedures and basic business office procedures.

Upon graduation and successful completion of required coursework, students are eligible to apply to the Maine Board of Dental Practice to obtain a State of Maine Dental Radiographer license.

The Dental Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association. The Commission is a specialized accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The Commission on Dental Accreditation can be contacted at (312)440-4653 or at 211 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611.

It is a goal of the Dental Assisting Program to provide a broad educational experience, encompassing didactic and clinical phases, for dental assistants to become competent in all functions that are currently identified in the Accreditation Standards for Dental Assisting.

The Dental Assisting Program will provide educational experience (which includes didactic and clinical phases) for dental assistants to become laboratory competent in the following functions as identified in the Maine Dental Practice Act. Students who complete the Dental Assisting

Program should be able to:

  • follow all state rules, laws and regulations pertaining to the scope of practice of dental assistants when carrying out key dental assisting functions such as, but not limited to: taking impressions, pouring up and trimming study casts, placing and removing matrix bands, orthodontic functions, and collecting patient data such as dietary analysis;
  • evaluate, interpret and synthesize both patient histories (medical, dental, etc.), as well as current dental research for patient education regarding oral health and diseases, including preventive and maintenance measures;
  • educate and promote oral health and its relationship to systemic health to patients and the public;
  • collect, maintain and organize data according to state and federal laws, including: patient records, radiographic images, intraoral photography, etc., in electronic databases as well as paper records;
  • understand and utilize proper state, federal and professional procedures and protocols for both patient and work place safety including proper infection control procedures, proper handling and disposal of hazardous materials, Blood borne Pathogens Standards, Hazard Communications, and all other standards and procedures set forth by OSHA, the CDC and other bodies;
  • understand, be sensitive to, and modify treatment as necessary in order to accommodate the disabilities, ethnic, or cultural needs of the patient;
  • demonstrate the breadth and depth of knowledge in the basic and social sciences, written and oral communications, college mathematics, dental sciences and clinical practice in order to be a productive contributor in a variety of settings such as: private offices, public health, or government installations;
  • demonstrate ethics, professionalism, community engagement, and professional development;
  • demonstrate critical thinking skills that allow the dental assistant to function in the orderly, neat and sequential manner required for chairside, 4-handed, dental assisting.

Admissions (see UMA general requirements)  

To be considered for admission to dental assisting, all applicants must have the following (emphasis is placed on the science grades in admission decisions):

  • A high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma.
  • Passed all courses indicated by placement tests in math, reading, and writing with a grade of “C-” or better. A math placement test is not required for those who have passed a college math course. Reading and writing placement tests are not required for those who have passed ENG 101 .
  • Applicants are required to have taken one year of a laboratory science, preferably biology or chemistry with a grade of “C-” or better and have satisfactorily completed courses in mathematics.
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.50 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • Grades of “C-” or better in courses applied toward degree credit.
  • Students accepted for admission are further required to have a complete physical examination within three months prior to entering the program. In addition, students must begin the Hepatitis B vaccination series at least two months prior to beginning the first clinical semester. Students must be immunized against tetanus within the last ten years. Students must have had a Varicella titer or Varicella vaccine series or documentation from a physician stating history of disease before beginning clinical courses in September. Also, the Influenza vaccine will be required before November 1st for each clinical year.
  • It is solely the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the completed application and related materials (such as high school transcripts, test scores, any transcripts of grades beyond high school, recommendations, etc.) are received by the Office of Admissions. Early application is encouraged because class size in limited.

English Language Proficiency Requirement

Courses and clinical training in Dental Assisting or Dental Health require effective communication skills in speaking, reading, and writing in English at a level that ensures the student’s ability to benefit from and make satisfactory progress in academic instruction involving patient treatment and safety. A student must be able to effectively communicate with patients during treatment and obtain necessary verbal informed consent during patient care and potential medical emergencies. Students will be asked to indicate their English language proficiency in each of the following areas: speaking, reading, and writing.


Differential tuition is applied to all DEA and DEH designated courses. In addition to University tuition and fees, each dental assisting student is responsible for purchasing clinical uniforms & clinical shoes. Transportation costs to clinical assignments are the student’s responsibility. The estimated cost for books and supplies, beyond tuition, room and board, is approximately $2,500. These fees are subject to change without notice.

Immunization Requirements

The Programs teach and utilize the Centers for Disease Control Infection Control Guidelines. (www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/hcw.html) and therefore dental assisting students must fulfill the requirements of having a physical examination and completing specified immunizations and titres. Specifically: Hepatitis B Vaccine Series with titre indicating immune status*; varicella vaccine, history of the disease, or titre indicating immunity; tetanus within the past 10 years; influenza vaccine; tuberculin skin test on an annual basis. Students are required to have medical insurance coverage and must obtain certification in healthcare provider level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or equivalent.

*The CDC recommends repeating the Hepatitis B vaccine series and titre if the initial titre does not indicate immunity. If after a second series, the titre does not indicate immunity, the individual is considered a non-responder. Non-responders should be considered susceptible to Hepatitis B Virus and should be counseled by their own healthcare provider regarding the risks of working in the healthcare field as a non-responder. Being a non-responder does not preclude students from participating in the dental hygiene program or profession, however, it is imperative that dental hygiene students be aware of their immune status to properly manage post exposure incidents.

Criminal Background Checks

Applicants to the Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene programs should be aware that a criminal background is required while enrolled in the program and may be a condition of professional employment. Internship sites may limit or deny clinical privileges to those who have a prior or current criminal record. If denied clinical privileges, the student is at risk of not being able to obtain the number of clinical hours required for graduation. Students will be expected to provide clinical internship sites with a current background check at the request of the interning site(s), with associated expenses the students’ responsibility. Faculty will provide students with the information necessary to order the required background check.

Technical Standards

The practice of Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene and Expanded Function Dental Assisting can be physically and mentally demanding. Students preparing for these professions need to have the skills and be able to perform the essential tasks as follows:

Motor Skills

  • Perform CPR.
  • Perform regular and repetitive use and range of motion of shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands and fingers.
  • Lift and carry up to ten pounds.
  • Reach overhead equipment to a height of five feet.
  • Rotate and reach laterally, standing or sitting.
  • Perform for a prolonged period without breaks, e.g., typical shift of eight hours.
  • Manipulate mechanical and patient care equipment, i.e., dials, switches, push buttons, keyboards, syringes, and blood pressure equipment.
  • Maneuver in tight quarters, common to dental offices.
  • Use dental instruments with precision and control in confined areas.
  • Pick up items of very small sizes and varying shapes.
  • Exhibit sufficient motor function to perform a patient diagnostic examination.
  • Carry out OSHA infection control procedures using cleaners and chemicals.
  • Endure physically-taxing workloads.

Sensory Skills / Perception Abilities

  • Differentiate among subtle shades of gray used in radiographic image formation.
  • Discern changes in color, texture, and shape of oral tissue.
  • Respond to requests and direction.
  • Perceive and interpret tactile vibrations appropriately.
  • Elicit information from a patient by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other diagnostic modalities.
  • Observe demonstrations at a distance and close at hand.
  • Have appropriate depth perception from a distance of 18 inches with or without corrective lenses and be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships.
  • Conceptualize right, left, and mirrored images.
  • Wear protective equipment such as surgical gloves, lab coats, face masks, face shields, and protective eyewear. Function in an environment where latex is present.

Intellectual Skills

  • Integrate, analyze, evaluate and synthesize data.
  • Possess the intellectual abilities required to carry out reasoning, analysis, problem-solving, critical thinking, and self-evaluation.
  • Effectively communicate (verbally and in writing) with patients, faculty, and team members in English.
  • Understand and be attentive to safety concerns for both patients and self, including possible exposure to hazards such as dental materials, radiation, blood and body fluids.

Behavioral Skills

Students should possess the emotional health and mental stability necessary to:

  • Demonstrate respect and caring for patients, peers, staff, and faculty in a professional and ethical manner.
  • Demonstrate respect for the diversity of cultures among patients, college personnel and peers.
  • Demonstrate a team approach in carrying out responsibilities in all settings.
  • Function effectively under stress and adapt to changing environments.
  • Be able to accept criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior.
  • Demonstrate collegiality among faculty, staff and peers.
  • Exercise appropriate judgment in keeping with the ethics and standards of the profession.
  • Respect the confidentiality of patient privacy.

Adapted from Mt Ida Community College with permission, http://catalog.mountida.edu/preview

Applicants of the dental assisting and dental hygiene programs should also be aware that full disclosure regarding criminal background checks could preclude the ability to obtain professional licensure.

Mandatory Orientation

Students accepted into the Dental Assisting Program are required to attend a mandatory Dental Assisting Program Orientation prior to beginning clinical coursework. Failure to attend this required session will jeopardize admission status in the Dental Assisting Program. Dental Assisting Program Staff will notify students of the date and time of this event at least one month prior or upon acceptance into the Program.

Academic Progress

Students enrolled in the Dental Assisting Program must earn a C- or better in all courses applied to the certificate or degree in order to remain in the program.

To be eligible for program completion, the student must successfully complete all requirements, have a minimum of 42 credit hours for the Certificate or 62 credits for the Associate Degree, and a grade point average of at least 2.50. Professional conduct and attitude are expected at all times.


Upon graduation students will be eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which includes General Chairside, Radiation Health and Safety, and Infection Control Exams. Successful completion of the examination carries with it the credential of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and qualifies the candidate for licensure in dental radiography from the Maine Board of Dental Practice. Additionally, after one year of full-time practice or two years of part-time practice, the CDA can apply to enroll in the UMA Expanded Function Program.

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