Dental Assisting Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to the Dental Assisting Program's most commonly asked questions.

FAQ Questions


No, you do not have to be a dental assistant or complete the DA program to attend Dental Hygiene Program. There are points toward admission to the TMCC Dental Hygiene Program for completing a dental assisting program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Completion of DA programs not accredited by CODA will not earn points toward admission to the TMCC Dental Hygiene Program.

Graduates of the TMCC DA program who have completed a Dental Hygiene (DH) Program report they feel the education they received in the TMCC DA program prepared them for the rigors of a DH program. In addition, they commented that starting the first semester of a DH program without dental knowledge is certainly possible, more challenging. The students report that the knowledge they had going into the first semester of DH allowed them to focus on information that was new, and they felt that was an advantage.

The DA program can be completed with a Certificate of Achievement (10 months) or the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Assisting (18-24 months).

The dental core courses are in both the Certificate and Degree. The Certificate is completed with the dental core courses and two general education courses, ENG 101 or ENG 113 and COM 113 or ENG 102 or ENG 114. The Degree is completed with the dental core courses, and general education courses. Please see the Dental Assisting Program's requirements in the TMCC catalog for more information regarding general education requirements.

Dental Assistants work with the dentist to provide preventative and restorative and cosmetic care such as fillings, veneers and crowns in adult and pediatric dental offices. They might work for an oral surgeon, an endodontist, or orthodontist. Dental Assistants perform many tasks such as business office procedures, clinical procedures and provide some services, such as sealants, one-on-one with the patient.

The short answer is for an entry-level dental assistant, none. Dentists know that graduates take the dental courses for both the certificate and degree. However, some offices and companies, as well as state and federal dental facilities do prefer the degree for administrative positions and consider it important for professional advancement.

Students who complete DA 101 and DA 102 will be eligible to sit for the Dental Assisting National Board's Infection Control Exam and the Radiation Health and Safety Exam.

Dental Assisting Program

No, though there is online content, students must attend in-person classes, labs and clinicals.

The Fall semester students have seven courses and three (3) labs; Spring semester is five courses, two labs and one clinical. It is not advisable to take additional courses during the Fall semester and only courses that do not interfere with the dental courses during spring and summer semester. Students should be cautious about exceeding the number of credits they can manage. It is important not to take so many courses that your GPA suffers and you end up repeating a course for a better grade.

Yes, many of our students work between 10-20 hours per week while in the program. Much depends on the student’s organizational and time management skills, as well as their ability to prioritize and stay focused.

Classes are held during the day and vary, though most classes are held within this time frame:

Fall Semester Wed.–Fri. 8/8:50 a.m.–3:30/5 p.m.
Spring Semester Tue.–Thu. 8/8:50 a.m.–3:30/5 p.m.
Summer Sessions (five weeks) Tue.–Thu. 8/8:50 a.m.–3:30/5 p.m.

Please consult the course schedule for DA course days and times.

The part-time program is in the process of being discontinued due to data indicating low number of requests.

If you are not a TMCC student, please apply to TMCC.

When you are ready to apply to the DA program, please visit the Dental Assisting Program Admission Procedures.

View all the costs associated with the Dental Assisting Program on our Admission Procedures.

The Dental Assisting (DA) Program at TMCC is the only DA program in northern Nevada accredited by the American Dental Association (CODA). The program is required to maintain a high standard for dental assisting education and as a result, graduates are able to take and pass national board exams for dental assisting.

Some programs are accredited by other agencies, however, only accreditation by CODA allows DA program graduates to sit for the Certified Dental Assisting exam through the Dental Assisting National Board, immediately after graduation.

The certificate or degree you earn from the TMCC DA program signifies your graduation from a regionally accredited college and a DA program that has earned accreditation status by the premier accrediting agency in dental education.

Please visit Dental Assisting Program Accreditation for more information.

Yes, please contact the Financial Aid department for more information.

The Re-entry Program at TMCC is another resource for students who are single parents, displaced homemakers, require job or vocational retraining, students returning to school after a break in employment, and is open to both male and female. Please visit the Re-entry Program's website to determine eligibility for their many services that are free to students.

No, there is not a program fee or a single fee that combines everything. Most programs with that type of fee system usually cost over twice that of the Dental Assisting program at TMCC.

TMCC is a public college and all course fees and tuition is based on the number of credits for each course as with any course taken at TMCC. Lab fees are charged per course and based on items used by students. Many students can purchase scrubs and books for less money than might be charged in a “one fee” system. Most of the incoming students at TMCC also have many of the immunizations required for the program and schools that include the fees into a single program fee might charge more than it might cost to get the immunizations in our community.

The Dental Assisting (DA) program begins the fall term, generally the last week of August, the fall semester ends the second week of December, the spring semester begins in mid-January and ends the second week of May. The summer session begins the third week of May and ends the third to fourth week of June.

Dental Assisting Basic Training

No, there are no prerequisites for this program.

No, completion of the Skills Certificate will not earn points toward admission to the TMCC Dental Hygiene Program. The Skills Certificate content is not as in-depth as that of the TMCC Dental Assisting Certificate of Achievement/Associate of Applied Science Degree Program.

Courses are 8 weeks long and can be taken together in the same semester or spread over two semesters. Students have three years to complete all three if they would rather take one course a year.

The preference is to complete all three so the student can earn the Skills Certificate.

If a student prefers, the courses can be taken one or two at a time, or, all three at the same time.

The Dental Assisting Basic Training Skills Certificate is not eligible for Financial Aid as a stand-alone certificate. Some students declare the Associate of Applied Science, General Studies and use the three courses as electives. Please speak with an Academic Advisor to see if this is a good option for you. It is advised that all students work with a Financial Aid Advisor and with an Admissions and Records representative to be aware of how courses and programs impact your goal and financial aid.

Students must complete the Required Program Interest Form by February 1. Classes are held the spring semester, however, if there is enough interest, additional classes will be offered fall or summer semesters.

Completion of the Skills Certificate in Dental Assisting will earn students three points toward admission to the Dental Assisting Program at TMCC. Because the course content in the Skills Certificate is not as extensive, do not have the same lab time as the Dental Assisting Program courses, Skills Certificate courses cannot be substituted for courses in the DA Program.

Yes, they will be posted on the TMCC website and this page as they become available.