The Dental Assisting Technology program at SKC, initiated in 1990, is flexibly designed to meet the needs of non-traditional students. The DAT program trains students to become dental assisting professionals, to become involved citizens, and to be an asset to and compliment the dental health team. Practical experience within the dental clinic as well as “externships” within the community, in private dental offices and tribal clinics are integrated within the curriculum. The program may be completed in as little as 11 months or as long as 2 years. Students may enter the program at the beginning of fall, winter, spring, or summer quarters. Upon completion of the Certificate and/or degree, graduates are eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).
The dental assistant will become proficient in all areas allowed and defined by the State of Montana Dental Practice Act. Upon completion of the program the student should be able to:
- Assist chairside, maintain proper asepsis, and utilize instruments, equipment, and moisture control in all aspects of dentistry. This includes assisting with anesthetic, performing rubber dam application, sealant, fluoride, coronal polish, and oral hygiene instruction.
- Identify and apply concepts of dental terminology, record patient medical and dental history.
- Identify and apply the concepts of dental ethics in relationship to dental team. culturally and professionally.
- Have the knowledge to schedule patients for various treatments, maintain a recall system, order and maintain supplies, complete patient insurance forms, and make financial arrangements.
- Perform laboratory procedures including taking impressions, pouring and trimming study models, constructing custom trays, bleaching trays, and mouth guards, temporary restorations, and manipulate intermediary materials using aseptic technique.
- Expose, develop, mount and critique radiographs including conventional, panoramic and digital Radiographic images.
The dental assisting technology program prepares students for entry-level work in the dental profession. Students who graduate from this program may gain employment as general chairside dental assistants, dental hygiene assistants, or as dental assistants in specialty offices. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination to become a Certified Dental Assistant.
Experienced dental Assistants in the State of Montana earn approximately $15.00 per hour according to a 2012 salary survey conducted by DANB. Entry-level jobs in the profession range from $10 -$13 per hour starting pay. Students who complete this program have found employment with local and regional dentists, in Indian Health Service facilities across the nation, have returned to school for additional dental training, or have received degrees in related professions such as nursing, environmental science, or social work.
Policies and procedures have been developed related to bloodborne and infectious disease. These policies, which may be obtained from the department, are available to applicants for admission and patients.
Background checks are mandatory for national exams.