Mar 01, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog 
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Dental Assisting, A.A.A.S.

Academic Program Code:  393


Few careers offer the diversity and flexibility that dental assisting does. There are opportunities for part-time and full-time employment as chair side, office, and laboratory work assistants. Most dental assistants work in private dental offices. Others, however, may work in dental schools, hospital dental departments, public health departments, dental laboratories, or public and private dental clinics. There are also opportunities to work in the offices of dental specialists such as pediatric dentists and orthodontists. Registered dental assistants are often in short supply, making GRCC graduates highly employable.

The program prepares students for the nationally recognized credential, Certified Dental Assistant through the Dental Assisting National Board. In addition, students are prepared to take the Michigan Registered Dental Assistant exam that leads to the preferred RDA credential in Michigan. 

Students can enroll in the program using one of two methods. Option A is for a student without a CDA credential. Option B is for a student with two or more years of experience as a dental assistant who has passed all three portions of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and holds a current CDA credential. These students will receive college credit for the CDA credential and granted advanced standing in the dental assisting program. 

Students in this program learn through a three-way combination of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences. 


 OPTION A - is for a student without a current Certified Dental Assistant credential.

Fall semester, twenty-four students are admitted to the program.

In order to be eligible for admission into the Dental Assisting Program, students must:

  1. Be admitted to Grand Rapids Community College
  2. Complete BI 117 - General Human Anatomy and Physiology with a C grade or Higher.
  3. Have documentation of high school diploma or GED (General Educational Development) Test.
  4. Have a high school and college GPA of at least 2.3
  5. Demonstrate math competency. Math competency can be demonstrated through any one of the following ways: SAT Math subsection score of 25 or Higher, ACT Math score of 18 or Higher, Math Placement Test (ALEKS) with a score of 30 or Higher, completion of MA 098 with a grade of C or Higher.
  6. Complete a preliminary criminal background check form and pass the background check.
  7. Be 18 years of age when they begin the program.


OPTION B - (Advanced Standing) is for a student with two or more years of experience as a dental assistant who has passed all three portions of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and holds a current CDA credential will receive college credit for this criteria and be granted advanced standing in the dental assisting program.

Winter semester, twelve students are accepted in Option B.

  1. Be admitted to Grand Rapids Community College
  2. Pass all three sections of the Dental Assisting National Board Examination (DANB) and provide current documentation from DANB.
  3. Contact the Dental Auxiliary Program Director, Eve Sidney at 616-234-4240. 
  4. Present current CPR card at the Health Care Provider Level through the American Heart Association or American Red Cross. Other vendors and online certification are not acceptable.
  5. Must be employed in a dental office as a dental assistant. Students will complete clinical process evaluations and competencies under the supervision of their licensed dentist employer.
  6. Attend mandatory orientation sessions at the beginning of the semester in which the student starts.  
  7. Complete Option B Student Application Packet.

The program in dental assisting is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation [and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval 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. The Commission’s web address is

General Education Courses

Select a minimum of 15 credit hours of course work from the General Education Course list.  Course work must be selected as directed from the areas below.

English Composition and Communications


Select one (1) Humanities General Education Elective.

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Select one (1) Natural Science General Education Elective.

General Education Total Credit Hours

15 (minimum)

Program Courses

Total Credit Hours


Program Notes

Students may complete the following courses prior to formal acceptance into the Dental Assisting, A.A.A.S. program: EN 101, COM 131 or COM 135, Humanities General Education Elective, PY 201, SO 251, SO 254, SO 260, and BI 117.  Students who have earned credit for BI 101 or  BI 121 or BI 122 may use one of those courses to meet the BI 117 requirement.

Essential Abilities/Technical Standards

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. sec. 794) prohibits discrimination of persons because of her or his disability. In keeping with these laws, colleges of the Wisconsin Technical College System make every effort to insure a quality education for students. The purpose of this document is to ensure that students acknowledge that they have been provided information on the functional abilities required of a student in the Dental Assistant/Dental Hygiene Programs.

The Grand Rapids Community College Dental Auxiliary Programs complies with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), and consistent with the ADA, the attached Functional Abilities/Core Performance Standards Worksheet provides the framework to relate functional ability categories and representative activities/attributes to any limitations/deficits in functional abilities. These standards shall be used by the Grand Rapids Community College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Programs in combination with the professional scope of practice, job analysis, other resources, and expert consultation to make decisions related to the ability of the student to perform the essential functions.

If a prospective student is or becomes unable to meet the required “Functional Abilities/Technical Standards,” the Grand Rapids Community College Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene Programs, in consultation with  College’s Disabilities Support Services Director and the Dental Auxiliary Program Director will determine, on an individual basis, whether or not reasonable accommodations can be made that would permit the student to meet these “Functional Abilities/Technical Standards” and thus, to continue in the program.

Please note: “Skill’s tied to” under each of the sections is not intended to be a complete listing of skills but rather as an example of a skill for which that ability. For more complete listing of skills, tied to that ability, please see the program coordinator.

I. Gross motor ability

Move within confined spaces, eye-hand-foot coordination, and stoop/squat down and maintain balance, stand and maintain balance, reach above shoulders, reach below waist, reach out horizontally.

II. Fine motor ability

Pick up objects with hands, simultaneous use of hand, wrist and fingers, finger dexterity, grasp small objects with fingers firmly/lightly, utilize repetitive pinching motions with fingers, eye-hand coordination, grasp small objects with hands, write clearly and neatly with pen or pencil, type on a keyboard, enter data using a key pad, pinch/squeeze or pick up objects with fingers, twist knobs with hands, must have adequate manual dexterity as to be capable of maintaining sterility.

III. Physical Endurance

Stand at client’s side during procedure, Sustain repetitive movements (example: chest compressions in CPR) maintain physical tolerance (continue tasks throughout a 10-12 hour shift), work and complete tasks at a reasonable pace, sit for long periods of time, stand for long periods of time, bend and twist without effort, sustain repetitive, movements, use upper body strength (e.g., perform CPR), squeeze with hands (e.g., manipulating impression materials).

IV. Physical Strength

Lift 25 pounds, carry equipment/supplies, squeeze with hands (example: dental instruments), use upper body strength.

V. Mobility

Are you able to perform the following? Twist, bend, stoop/squat, move quickly, climb ladders/stools/stairs, walk.

VI. Hearing

Hear normal speaking level sounds, hear faint voices, hear faint body sounds (example: breath and heart sounds) hear auditory alarms, hear telephones.

VII. Visual

Visually assess clients, see object up to 20 inches away See object more than 20 feet away Use peripheral vision distinguish color, distinguish color intensity, and see emergency lights/lamps.

VIII. Tactile

Feel vibrations, detect differences in surface characteristics, and detect differences in sizes and shapes of instruments.

IX. Smell

Detect odors from client, detect smoke, and detect gas or noxious smells.

X. Reading

Read and interpret textbooks, read and interpret dental records, read and understand written documents, read very fine or small print.

XI. Arithmetic

Read and understand columns of writing (example: flow sheets), read digital displays, read graphic printouts, calibrate equipment, convert numbers to metric, read graphs (sleep reports), tell time, measure time (duration,).

Use measuring tools (example: tape measure) read measurement marks (scales), able to perform basic arithmetic functions: add, subtract, multiply, divide Compute percentages, use a calculator, record numbers (example: chart observed parameters).

XII. Emotional Stability

Establish therapeutic boundaries, provide client with appropriate emotional support Adapt to changing environment/stress, deal with the unexpected (example: crisis, focus attention on task despite distractions Monitor own emotions, perform multiple responsibilities concurrently, handle strong emotions (example: grief), how appropriate compassion through communication.

XIII. Analytical Thinking

Transfer/extrapolate knowledge from one situation to process information, evaluate outcomes, problem solve, prioritize tasks, use long and short term memory.

XIV. Critical Thinking Skills

Identify cause-effect relationships, plan/control activities for others, and synthesize knowledge and skills, sequence information 

XV. Interpersonal skills

Negotiate interpersonal conflict appropriately, respect differences in clients, establish rapport with clients,

XVI. Communication Skills

Teach (example: client and family), explain procedure, give oral reports, I=interact with others, speak on the telephone, Direct activities of others, convey information through writing (example: progress notes), speak clearly and distinctly.

XVII. Environment

Tolerate toxic or caustic chemicals, exposure to radiation, exposure to excessive noises, exposure to vibration, exposure to flame, exposure to nitrous oxide.


Change in DAA 132 credit hours from 5 to 4; program total credits changed from 66 to 65–Fall 2018