Feb 28, 2024  
2023-2024 UMA Catalog 
2023-2024 UMA Catalog

Dental Assisting Certificate

Delivery Area: Augusta, Bangor

Admissions: 1-877-UMA-1234 ext. 3465 or (207) 621-3465

Advising Center: 1-877-UMA-1234 ext. 3149 or (207) 621-3149

Coordinator: Assistant Professor Courtney Noonan (Interim Coordinator

Website: http://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 Health Centers. 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 examinations, Radiology licensure may be obtained; yet, individuals that have been convicted of a felony may not be eligible for licensure.

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.
  • High School Biology ith lab, BIO 100 or BIO 110 (grade of C- or higher) with more recent biology course considered for admissions
  • Successful completion of a high school or college mathematics course (Basic Math, general Math, Business Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Algebra/Trigonometry or Geometry) with most recent math considered for admission.
  • A cumulative grade point average of 2.50 or higher on a 4.0 scale.
  • 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 titre 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.


Each dental assisting student purchases 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 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; MMR vaccine series or titer, 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 check may be required while enrolled in the program or as 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.

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.

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

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 your admission status in the Dental Assisting Program. Dental Assisting Program Staff will be 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 in order to remain in the program.

To be eligible for certificate completion, the student must have successfully completed all requirements, have a minimum of 44 credit hours, 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.

Admissions Requirements:

  • High School Diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED)
  • High School Biology with lab, BIO 100 / BIO 110 (grade of C- or higher) 
  • Successful completion of a high school or college mathematics course (Basic Math, General Math, Business Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Algebra/Trigonometry or Geometry)
  • 2.50 Grade Point Average (GPA) or higher from a regionally accredited institution

UMA Certificate Requirements:

  • Minimum 50% of the required courses taken through UMA
  • Minimum 2.00 G.P.A. 

Dental Assisting Certificate Requirements:

  • Minimum 44 Credit Hours
  • Minimum Cumulative UMA G.P.A.: 2.50 and a C- or higher in all courses applied towards degree completion

Clinical Course Prerequisites:

Before entering the clinical portion of the dental assisting program, students are required to have
the following:

  • Complete physical examination within three months of entering the program
  • Hepatitis B vaccination series initiated prior to the first clinical semester
  • Current certification in Healthcare Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or equivalent
  • Recent tetanus immunization (within ten years)
  • MMR Vaccine or Titer
  • PPD within one year
  • Varicella Zoster Vaccine or Titer
  • COVID-19 Vaccine (University Dependent)



Before entering the clinical portion of the dental assisting program, students are required to attend a mandatory pre-clinical on-campus student orientation. Students will be informed of the meeting date during their registration meeting prior to the preclinical semester. Any student who does not attend the mandatory orientation risks forfeiting their seat in the program.

Applicants considering dental assisting need to be aware that this program is academically rigorous and physically demanding, requiring long periods of time in a particular position, often standing or seated. Tasks require hand-eye coordination, visual acuity, fine motor dexterity and close focus vision.

Health Insurance

Students are required to have medical insurance coverage and are responsible for any costs incurred in the event of an exposure incident.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR):

Students must obtain certification in healthcare-provider level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and maintain it throughout their preclinical and clinical semesters. Students are advised to consult with the Dental Health programs Clinical and Laboratory Coordinator prior to enrolling in a CPR course, as not all courses meet this requirement.

Background Checks:

Applicants to the Dental Assisting program should be aware that a criminal background check will be required prior to beginning clinical externships and as 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 externship sites with a current background check at the request of the externship sites, with associated expenses the students’ responsibility. Students will be directed to complete the background check with the appropriate entity during the fall semester prior to externships.

General Education Requirements (10 Credit Hours):

Complete one of the following Communications electives (3):

Advising Notes:

  • The Commission on Dental Association of the American Dental Association accredits the Dental Assisting Program. This program emphasizes the knowledge and skills required for chairside dental assisting. It also prepares students with the skills needed to provide clinical support services and perform selected laboratory procedures, as well as basic business office procedures. 
  • Students in their final semester will be eligible to take the Certification Examination in General Chairside Assisting and Radiation Health and Safety administered by the Dental Assisting National Board. 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 Examiners.
  • A minimum grade of “C-” on first attempt is required in all courses applied to the degree; a grade of less than a “C-” will result in dismissal from the program.
  • Students earning a cumulative UMA GPA of less than 2.50 will be dismissed or placed on academic probation for one semester. Refer to the current UMA catalog for probation guidelines.
  • Students must complete  PSY 100 , COM 101 , and BIO 100  prior to the start of preclinical coursework in semester two.