Apr 16, 2024  
2020-2021 Catalog Volume XXX Ver 2 
2020-2021 Catalog Volume XXX Ver 2 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Assisting, Certificate

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Through quality, comprehensive, evidence-based education, patient-centered clinical and community outreach experiences, the mission of the South College Dental Assisting program is to equip future dental assistants with the skills necessary to become a valuable member of the dental care team.

Program Goals and Expected Outcomes

Dental Assisting graduates will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and competence of an entry-level Dental Assistant.
  • Demonstrate patient education skills.
  • Effectively communicate with patients and members of the dental team.
  • Demonstrate office administrative and management skills.
  • Utilize infection control, radiation safety, HIPPA requirements, and emergency protocol to protect self and the public.
  • Display high ethical and moral standards, integrity, and professionalism as a member of society and the dental team.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills within the scope of dental assisting.
  • Promote Dental Health ideals through service to the community and involvement with professional organizations.
  • Successfully complete the State of Tennessee Certifications in Radiology, Coronal Polishing, Sealants Application, and Nitrous Oxide Monitoring.
  • Successfully complete the Dental Assisting National Board Examination.

Role of the Dental Assistant in Health Care Delivery

Dental Assistants are valuable members of the dental care team. They increase the efficiency and assist the dentist in the delivery of oral health care.

Dental Assistants’ responsibilities include:

  • Assist the dentist during dental treatment procedures
  • Prepare patients and the work area for treatments and procedures
  • Develop radiographs
  • Sterilize dental instruments and equipment
  • Hand instruments to dentists during procedures
  • Dry patients’ mouths using suction hoses and other equipment
  • Instruct patients in proper oral hygiene
  • Provide patients with post-operative instructions following surgery and dental treatment
  • Complete lab tasks, under the direction of a dentist
  • Keep records of dental treatment, including review of medical history and acquisition of blood pressure and pulse
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Work with patients on billing and payment

Dental assistants can perform the following procedures with state certification:

  • Radiograph Acquisition and Processing
  • Coronal Polishing
  • Sealant Application
  • Nitrous Oxide Monitoring

Dental Assisting Registration

Registration is granted by each individual state. Dental Assistants practice in accordance with requirements of individual State Dental Practice Acts.

The Dental Assisting graduate will be eligible for registration by the Board of Dentistry and may perform additional procedures for which they have received Board certification including:

  • Coronal Polishing
  • Nitrous Oxide Monitoring
  • Sealant Application
  • Dental Radiology

As licensing requirements vary from state to state, it is necessary to contact each licensing authority in a given state for its specific application requirements and procedures.

Typically, state boards have the authority to deny a license to an applicant who has committed an act for which the board could revoke a license. Persons convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor may be refused licensure, as well as those disciplined on the license application about prior convictions, discipline, etc. Most states conduct background checks on a case-by-case basis and may take into consideration the seriousness of the offense and other factors in making the decision to grant or withhold licensure.

Overview of the Dental Assisting Program

The thirty-three-week (3 quarters, 9 months) Dental Assisting program curriculum provides a strong foundation in Prevention and Nutrition, Basic Dental Sciences, Preclinical Dental Skills, Clinical Dental Procedures, Dental Radiography, Dental Specialties, Restorative and Laboratory Materials and Techniques, and Dental Practice Management. Upon completion of the Dental Assisting program, the graduate will be eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board Examination, gain certification in radiography, coronal polishing, nitrous oxide monitoring, and sealant application, increase the efficiency of the dentist in the delivery of oral health care, and become a valuable member of the Dental care team.


The program in Dental Assisting is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “Approved without Reporting Requirements.” 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 60611-2678. The Commission’s web address is: http://www.ada.org/en/coda.

Admisssion Requirements

Applicants interested in this program are required to visit the college and meet individually with an admissions representative and program faculty. Admission is dependent upon class size. The Admissions, Progression and Retention (APR) Committee will make admission recommendations to the Chair of Dental Education for final approval. The Chair may accept or reject the recommendation of the Committee. A denial of admission may be appealed to the South College Academic and Conduct Appeals Committee within five business days of the notification. Appeals outside of this timeframe will not be considered.

Applicants seeking admissions must:

  1. Complete and submit the South College Dental Assisting program application. The Dental Assisting program will have open enrollment with cohort admissions in the Spring and Fall quarters.
  2. Meet minimum requirements for South College Undergraduate General Admission OR meet the South College requirements for admission as a transfer student.
  3. Commit to full attendance and participation in a rigorous educational program which requires class participation, significant out-of-class preparation time, and clinical education assignments.

Students who have been unsuccessful in the South College Dental Assisting program, or other Dental Assisting programs, will be reviewed on an individual basis. Students who present transcripts indicating failure from two Dental Assisting programs will not be considered for admission or readmission to the South College Dental Assisting Program.

Requirements for Admission (Other than Academic)

In addition to course work, each student must provide proof of ability to perform the skills needed to practice Dental Assisting effectively. Health care facilities must meet federal guidelines, and students must also meet these requirements to be allowed to gain clinical experience. All Dental Assisting students must comply with communicable diseases/blood-borne pathogen requirements that the clinical agencies require. Therefore, proof of the following are requirements for the Dental Assisting program applicant:

  1. Health history and physical exam certifying ability to function in the required capacity prior to admission.
  2. Common communicable disease immunization or immunity, including MMR (2 in series if born after 1957), tetanus (booster required every 10 years) and varicella vaccine (2 in series). A vaccine titer test showing immunity is also acceptable.
  3. Hepatitis B immunization (3 in series) or completed Declination Form for Hepatitis B Vaccination depending on the requirements of the clinical affiliate. The Declination Form must only be used for medical reasons and must be documented by student’s primary care provider. A vaccine titer test showing immunity is also acceptable.
  4. Annual Flu immunization or completed Declination Form for Influenza Vaccination depending on the requirements of the clinical affiliate. The Declination Form must only be used for medical reasons and must be documented by student’s primary care provider.
  5. Annual screening for tuberculosis or x-ray follow-up.
  6. Acceptable drug screen. Students may be required to obtain more than one acceptance drug screen per year depending on the requirements of the clinical affiliate. In any case where a drug screen is positive, and no authorized prescription is produced to validate the presence of the drug in the individual’s system, continuation in the Program will be denied. Upon notification of the drug screen results, the student will have 5 working days to provide prescription validation. Students are responsible for costs associated with any required testing.
  7. Acceptable criminal background check for a minimum of past 15 years. Students may be required to obtain more than one acceptance criminal background check per year depending on the requirements of the clinical affiliate. If the background check reveals previous criminal convictions, admittance into the program will be made on a case-by-case basis. Students who are denied clinical experiences due to past convictions may be unable to progress in the program which will result in failure to complete the required courses for the program.
  8. Proof of health insurance coverage throughout the entire Dental Assisting program.

Students admitted to the Dental Assisting program must demonstrate the following functional capacities as communicated via the Department of Dental Education. Students who believe they will not be able to meet one or more of these requirements without accommodation or modification must notify the Chair of Dental Education and the Director of Student Success, and a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis whether reasonable accommodation may be made. In no instance will an accommodation be made which will compromise Dental Assisting care, or that will put patients or other students at risk. Accommodation granted when a student is generally admitted to South College does not guarantee that this modification will apply to admission to the Dental Assisting program.

Acceptance into a South College program does not imply or guarantee that a student will be able to obtain licensure, certification, or employment. Several South College programs require field experiences during the curriculum (e.g., clinicals, internships, practicums, student teaching) and/or lead to a field that requires a license or certification. Background checks are required prior to matriculation into these programs and may further be required prior to the field experiences and/or licensure/certification. Students should be aware that a prior misdemeanor or felony arrest or conviction (or an event of this nature occurring during the program) may restrict the individual’s ability to gain admission into the program, progress into field experiential training, and/or obtain professional licensure or certification. It is the responsibility of the student to inform the program of any issues that may have occurred in the past or that arise during the program. The events may require voluntary withdrawal or administrative dismissal from the program. All students are responsible for learning the requirements for licensure within their home state or any state in which he/she wishes to practice ensuring ability to meet these requirements.

Academic Progression and Retention in the Dental Assisting Certificate Program

Students admitted the Dental Assisting program are required to earn a minimum grade of “C” in all major courses. Students earning less than a “C” in any major course will not be allowed to continue in the current rotation of courses, must reapply for admission to the program in a later rotation, and must repeat the course earning a grade of “C” or higher. No guarantee of readmission is made.


Readmission to the Dental Assisting program will be made on a case-by-case basis through the Readmissions Committee via review of Application for Readmission. In the case of a failure in a course, or several courses in a given quarter, the student may reapply for program readmission. If readmission is granted, the student will be required to audit the previous quarter prior to failure and construct and participate in a remediation program with the Chair of Dental Education. Once the remediation is complete, the student will enter the next quarter of the program and repeat all failed courses. Readmissions to the program, if granted, will be allowed on a one-time basis. If the student has been out of the program at the time of Application for Readmission for more than one year, the student will be required to begin at Quarter 1 of the Dental Assisting program if readmitted.

Grading Scale

  90-100 =
80-89 =
70-79 =
60-69 =
Below 60 =

Program Termination

Students accepted into the Dental Assisting program in the Department of Dental Education are expected to demonstrate professional behavior and demeanor. Professional behavior encompasses a broad range of expectations, including the expectation of trustworthiness and at all times keeping the welfare of the individual receiving care a priority. To this end, any instance of student intent to misrepresent facts will be cause for immediate program dismissal.

Misrepresentation of facts, verbal or written, including but not limited to the following situations, is prohibited.

  • Bribery
  • Deliberate withholding information about a patient, patient care, and/or self
  • Plagiarism
  • Presenting another student’s work as one’s own
  • Cheating in any form
  • Forgery or falsification in any form
  • Plagiarism, cheating, and other forms of academic dishonesty are prohibited. Students guilty of academic misconduct, either directly or indirectly through participation or assistance, are immediately responsible to the course instructor. Students are expected to respect and follow the South College Academic Honor Code.

Grounds for immediate termination from the Dental Assisting program include:

  1. Receiving a grade of D, F, W in any major course listed in the curriculum.
  2. Insubordination.
  3. The conviction and/or known use of, distribution of, or possession of illegal drugs or controlled substances.
  4. Failure to accomplish didactic and/or clinical assignments.
  5. Unprofessional, unsafe, and/or unethical conduct.
  6. Academic dishonesty in related or professional courses.
  7. Participant clinical agencies retain the right to reject any student whose behavior may be hazardous to the agency.

Any student wishing to reapply to any program must contact the Chair of Dental Education and follow the Program Readmission policy outlined in the Dental Assisting Department Policy and Program Manual.

Voluntary Withdrawal

Students withdrawing from a program may apply for program readmission as delineated by the policy in the Dental Assisting Program and Policy Manual.

Reapplication/Readmission to the Program

Students will be considered for readmission to the Dental Assisting program only one time on a space available basis.

Students desiring readmission to the first quarter of the Dental Assisting program must reapply and will be evaluated with new program applicants. Program readmission consideration to second or any subsequent quarters requires a formal Letter of Intent from the student submitted to the Department Chair one quarter prior to the desired readmission date.

The Certificate in Dental Assisting program is offered at the Nashville campus (Onground).

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