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Dental Assistants are Celebrated During Dental Assistant Recognition Week™

February, 2021
  • QCC Dental Assisting students are trained to take dental radiographs.
    QCC Dental Assisting students are trained to take dental radiographs.
  • Dental Assisting student Jessica Flood, of Worcester, is currenly doing an externship at Dr. John Gusha's office.
    Dental Assisting student Jessica Flood, of Worcester, is currenly doing an externship at Dr. John Gusha's office. She will graduate in May 2021 and has already been offered a job.

Since 1977, the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) has recognized the invaluable contributions dental assistants make to quality dental care through Dental Assistant Recognition Week™ held the first full week in March every year.

This year’s theme,” "Dental Assistants - Our Heart Goes Into Every Smile," acknowledges the growing importance of these valued workers and on March 7-13, 2021, dental assistants across the country will be honored for their commitment to professional development and quality dental care.

QCC’s Dental Assisting Certificate program is an important part of the dental education landscape in Massachusetts, and is the only program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation in Worcester.

“Our students can take their Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam in the last few weeks of the program so they are credentialed, if they pass, with Dental Assisting National Board, CDA when they graduate,” said Jennifer McKeon, professor of Dental Assisting/Hygiene.

The one-year Dental Assisting Certificate program prepares graduates to perform a wide range of patient care duties in the dental office. Dental assistants support dentists by obtaining necessary health history information, maintaining patient comfort during examinations, providing necessary instruments and materials to the dentist during surgical procedures, taking radiographs, and casting impressions. The dental assistant manages a variety of office-related duties including scheduling and confirming appointments, updating patient records, generating bills, following third-party payments, and ordering supplies and materials. According to the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the number of Massachusetts dental assistant jobs is projected to grow by 12.5% over a 10-year period ending in 2022.

QCC’s curriculum provides students with the ability to make judgments regarding intra-oral, chair-side, and laboratory procedures. Courses in business office procedures and basic computer usage are also included. In addition, students will be required to complete a series of clinical rotations arranged by QCC in a variety of general and specialty dental practices.

Students have the opportunity to see different avenues of dentistry while in the program, by being placed in different general dental offices, such as an oral surgeon’s office and an orthodontist office. Students are also exposed to a variety of different avenues of dentistry, through collaboration with the College’s Dental Hygiene program.

Dental Assisting students take radiology courses that offer them hands-on education in digital radiography. Students learn film and developing techniques, learning on a dental X-ray teaching training replica (known as a Dexter head) prior to live patients. The curriculum enables students to take part in the state-of-the-art dental materials lab with Cerac scanning and milling of crowns, affording them the unique opportunity to learn about a dental materials lab.

According to Professor McKeon, students who enter the workforce after completing the program have 100 percent placement.

“Most students have a job offer before they even graduate,” she added.

Additionally, students who complete the dental assisting program will be prepared to continue their studies at the associate's degree level in such disciplines as allied dental services or dental hygiene.

"We have a bridge program that allows two students every year from the dental assisting program to bridge into the dental hygiene program and bypass the waitlist.  Student must have all the admission requirements for the dental hygiene program to qualify to bypass the waitlist,” Professor McKeon said.

To learn more, visit QCC’s Dental Assisting Certificate Program.