2023-2024 Catalog

Dental Assisting ­Technology Department

  • Endorsement in Dental Assisting (12 credits) 
  • Certificate of Completion (C.C.) (46 credits)

Program Description

The Dental Assisting Technology program trains students to become dental assisting professionals, involved citizens, and to be an asset to and compliment the dental healthcare team.  The program emphasizes skills such as patient communication, critical thinking, clinical charting, and job readiness including practice interviewing and preparing a dental assisting resume.  A unique feature of this program is an on-site dental clinic in which students gain experience working with dentists and patients; students begin clinical activities such as performing infection control procedures as soon as the second week of school. The program requires students to complete 300 hours of clinical externship through the on-site dental clinic, private dental offices, IHS, and tribal health clinics.

Every state has different requirements for dental assistants.  State of Montana requires a dental assistant to be qualified in radiography.  This can be obtained in three ways:

1. Graduate from a CODA accredited dental assisting program, such as ours.

2. Pass the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) examination offered by Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

  3. Take the Radiography course offered by Salish Kootenai College and the Montana Dental Association. 

Program Goals

  1. Recruit, retain, and graduate Native American students
  2. Prepare students to become Certified Dental Assistants
  3. Educate students who are prepared to address dental health concerns in Native American communities 
  4. Prepare graduates to be an asset to and compliment the dental health team
  5. Encourage students and graduates to be involved citizens within the dental communities in which they live

Degrees offered:

  • Certificate of Completion. Upon completion of the certificate a student is NOT a Certified Dental Assistant, but is eligible to take the Dental Assisting National Board Exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA). 
  • Dental Assisting Endorsement.  Upon completion of the endorsement a student will be entry level trained as a dental assistant and be legally qualified to take x-rays in the State of Montana.  This does NOT qualify a student to take the Dental Assisting National Board Exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).This curriculum is offered on demand, please contact the department for information.


The Dental Assisting Technology Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation and has been granted the accreditation status of “approval without reporting requirements” at the last site visit in 2021. 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: http://www.ada.org/en/coda.

Admission Requirements

  • HS diploma or GED/HiSET
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Documentation of health insurance coverage
  • Dental Assisting application
  • SKC Application
  • SKC placement test


  • Lab fees of $70 per lab credit
  • Hepatitis B vaccine/immunizations
  • 3-4 sets of short sleeved scrubs
  • 1 white, long sleeved lab coat
  • 2 OSHA approved clinical uniforms
  • OSHA approved clinic shoes
  • Textbooks $250

Other Requirements

  • Current CPR certification (may be taken during first quarter of study)
  • Some externship or employment sites may require a background check and drug test prior to hire. 
  • Background checks are mandatory for national exams.
  • Spring quarter may be extended to accommodate completion of all clinical externship (DATD 140) hours.
  • Prospective students should not have severe mobility or visual impairments and must be able to lift at least 30 pounds.  They must also demonstrate emotional and mental maturity/health for work in a clinical setting.  Individuals with limitations should contact the Dental Assisting Department prior to the start of class.
Bloodborne Pathogens

Policies and procedures have been developed related to bloodborne and infection disease.  These policies, which may be obtained from the department, are available upon request.

For more information, consult with the department staff or faculty.

Student Learning Outcomes:

Students completing the dental assisting program will become proficient in all areas allowed and defined by the State of Montana Dental Practice Act.

  • Maintain proper infection and hazardous control protocol in dental healthcare setting
  • Perform four-handed dental assisting duties in a safe and ethical manner
  • Assist with intra and extra oral examinations, identify and apply concepts of dental terminology, and accurately record patient data 
  • Identify and apply the concepts of dental ethics and professional communication in relationship to the dental team and patients
  • Have the knowledge to schedule patients for various treatments, maintain a recall system, order and maintain supplies, complete patient insurance forms, make financial arrangements, and utilize basic dental software
  • Perform dental laboratory procedures.
  • Expose, develop, mount and evaluate radiographs including conventional, digital, and panoramic radiographic images while using proper safety precautions
  • Become advocates and promote healthy lifestyles to reduce health disparities in oral health within Native American communities