Dental Assistant (Diploma)

As the population grows and ages, dentists’ workloads are expected to increase, driving a need for dental assistants with the skills to perform routine tasks so dentists may devote more time to complex procedures. In fact, dental assisting is projected to be among the fastest-growing occupations in the nation through the year 2022.* At Brightwood College, you could acquire the relevant education and hands-on training to help start your career in dental assisting.

If you want to become part of a dental practice, our Dental Assistant Diploma program can provide you with the relevant training, knowledge, and skills. You could develop the skills to perform duties such as instrument sterilization, tray setups, four-handed dentistry, equipment maintenance, impressions, model trimming, charting, and dental reception duties. We offer flexible class schedules so you could meet the demands of your family, work, and education. At Brightwood College, you can get the education and hands-on training to help start your career in dental assisting.

Dental Assistant Diploma Program Features

Our curriculum offers hands-on training to help you develop the skills to succeed on the job as soon as you graduate. In addition to office management and communications, records management and ethics, and an introduction to basic computer skills, study includes the following:

  • Chairside assisting, including handling dental instruments, controlling infection, and planning treatment in the eight specialty areas of dentistry
  • Handling dental emergencies, such as an abscessed tooth, alveolitis, or a broken tooth or prosthesis
  • Identifying structures of the oral cavity, the different types of teeth, and universal codes for each tooth
  • Preventive dentistry

Dental Assistant Education and Training

Brightwood College is proud to offer a Dental Assistant Diploma program that is market-driven with curriculum designed to serve local employment needs. When you earn your diploma at Brightwood College, you have the opportunity to gain not only dental assistant knowledge and skills, but also professional skills that you could apply to your everyday life. The objective of the dental assistant program is to prepare you to pursue positions as a member of a dental health team and to perform chairside assisting and related office and lab procedures under the direct supervision of a dentist. Before you graduate, you will be required to complete an externship at a general dental office, clinic, or other dental facility where you can actively participate in patient care.


Certification or licensure can provide an additional credential for obtaining employment in the field. Successful completion of this program may enable graduates to take a certification or licensure examination, such as the following:

  • The Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) examination. Upon successful completion of the RDA exam, the licensed dental assistant may perform extended functions that include temporary restoration, periopacks, bases and liners, and orthodontic expanded functions.† 
  • Depending on your campus and state, graduates of the dental assistant program may also receive a radiology certificate recognized by the Dental Board of California, a Coronal Polish Completion Certificate,‡ a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) card, and an HIPAA Certificate.
  • The certification of registration exam approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE), which may include certification to perform radiologic procedures. In Texas, you must complete a mandatory short course approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and be registered with TSBDE to be qualified to take x-rays in a dentist's office.†

California students: RDA examination pass rates are available at

Certification or licensure examinations vary by location. Please see your campus' course catalog to determine which certification or licensure exam(s) may be available to you.

What Does a Dental Assistant Do?

The duties of a dental assistant are diverse, designed to support the dentist, and include performing a range of daily activities such as the following:

  • Caring for patients in the treatment room
  • Taking impressions of patients' teeth
  • Demonstrating preventive dentistry to patients
  • Assisting with oral surgery
  • Performing oral evacuations
  • Infection control and sterilization

Administrative Skills Training

Dental assistants often perform administrative responsibilities to help maintain an efficient, productive dental office. Your training will include classes in dental office procedures such as taking inventory, managing patient records, and communicating verbally and through written correspondence.

Potential Dental Assistant Career Opportunities

As a graduate of the dental assistant program at Brightwood College, you may apply for an entry-level positions in dental group practices, public health institutions, clinics, dental insurance agencies, and for dental product distributors. Dental assistants can continue to grow in their careers and become office managers, enter dental sales positions, or obtain positions at research facilities or insurance companies.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014–2015 Edition, Dental Assistants, (accessed January 2014). Expected national growth rate through the year 2022. National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

† The School cannot guarantee a student's eligibility either to take any exam or become certified, registered, or licensed. A student's eligibility may depend on his or her work experience, completion of high school (or its equivalent), not having a criminal record, meeting other licensure or certification requirements, or the program or School itself having appropriate accreditation or licensure. Externship sites may themselves require a criminal background check or medical examination. Please refer to the Certification, State Board, and National Board Exams section of the relevant campus catalog for further guidance.

‡ Coronal polish completion certificate is to be filed with the RDA exam application. Licensure will be issued once the RDA exam has been passed by COMDA. Certain programs are designed to prepare students to take various certifications or licensing exams. The College cannot guarantee students will pass those exams.

Campus Locations

The dental assistant program is available at the following Brightwood College locations:






Gainful Employment Disclosures

Access gainful employment information including program length, tuition costs, financing options, graduation rates and median debt load of students who have completed the program:






Campus Catalogs

For details about specific program outcomes and offerings, please review the Academic Programs section of your course catalog.

For additional information on tuition and fees, please review the tuition information section of your campus course catalog under Financial Information > Tuition and Fees.