Dental Assistant Classes

Penn Foster’s online Dental Assistant program consists of nine courses to help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to begin your new career path as a Dental Assistant including managing office operations, understanding dental health terminology and procedures, scheduling appointments, and updating patient records. Find comprehensive course details below to learn about the Dental Assistant classes included in our program.

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Dental Assistant career diploma program prepares students for an entry-level position as a Dental Assistant.

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to...
  • Discuss the personality traits, characteristics, and qualifications required to be a successful dental assistant along with the elements and principles of ethical decision making and HIPAA rules that underpin all good clinical practice
  • Explain the anatomy and physiology of the head, neck, and oral cavity, including parts of the teeth and types of teeth and how they’re charted in a dental office
  • Discuss the goals of preventive dentistry and the relationship between nutrition and dental caries
  • Identify infectious diseases, the modes of disease transmission, and their relationship to patients and occupational risks in a dental office
  • Describe the best practices and procedures for preventing disease transmission in a dental office, including occupational safety and administrative protocols
  • Describe the best practices and procedures for obtaining and evaluating radiographic images, including documentation, patient care, equipment, materials, and occupational safety, infection control, and administrative protocols
  • Describe the procedures used when assisting a dentist and/or dental hygienist in a dental office, including the materials, medications, and equipment used, documentation, and assisting with emergency situations, patients with special needs, and medically compromised patients
  • Describe the skills, strategies, and equipment used for successful communication in a dental office
  • Clean and sterilize dental instruments
  • Explain the front office responsibilities of a dental assistant, including bookkeeping, record keeping, scheduling, billing, processing insurance claims, and other duties using both physical and digital methods
  • Discuss the importance of professional appearance, professional development, and strategies for seeking employment and resume preparation

In this course, you’ll develop the necessary skills to ensure your success in the program. You’ll explore how you can improve your study skills so you’re able to use a number of tools that will help you to be successful.


  • Identify skills needed to be a confident and independent online learner

This course introduces you to dentistry, dental assisting, and being a part of a dental team. You’ll review some of the history of dentistry, beginning with the Egyptians and continuing through the ages. You’ll read about the origins of inventions and the predecessors of modern equipment.

You’ll also study how to identify the members of the dental team and their duties. The different types of dental offices and their separate areas will be described. The professional qualifications and responsibilities of a dental assistant will be addressed, along with a look at how licensure is managed.


  • Identify the pioneers of modern dentistry and career opportunities
  • Recognize the members of the dental health team and their offices

In this course, you’ll analyze varying dental terminology, including the oral cavity, dental anatomy, and tooth morphology.


  • Identify terminology and anatomy in dentistry
  • Analyze cavities and how to chart

In this course, you’ll review preventative dentistry and how nutrition impacts it. You’ll also identify how dental law and ethics applies in the office.


  • Identify the importance of preventative dentistry and how nutrition affects it
  • Analyze dental law and ethics in the dental office

In this course, you’ll study the different facets of the dental operatory, including patients, instrumentation, and moisture control. You’ll also review disease transmission, pathology, and dental emergencies. Finally, you’ll go over how to control infection in dentistry.


  • Identify the facets of the dental operatory
  • Analyze disease transmission, pathology, and dental emergencies
  • Describe how to control infection in dentistry

In this course, you’ll first cover OSHA regulations and how they’re applied in the dental office. Next, you’ll study radiology. You’ll read dental film, diagnose radiographs, and process radiographs.


  • Define OSHA regulations and how they’re applied in the dental office
  • Describe radiology and read dental film
  • Analyze how to diagnose radiographs and how to process an exposed radiograph

In this course, you’ll study the basics of pharmacology and its relationship to the dental profession. You’ll review various components and methods of how to prepare and administer anesthesia safely. You’ll also review dental restorative materials and how they’re used in restorations, as well as dental impression materials.


  • Explain how pharmacology and anesthesiology relate to the dental assistant role
  • Describe various basic dental materials used in dental procedures
  • Describe various impression materials

In this course, you’ll study endodontics and periodontics, the field of dentistry that deals with the tissues that surround the teeth. You’ll be introduced to the specialties of pediatric dentistry and orthodontics and the specialties of prosthodontics and oral and maxillofacial surgery.


  • Explain conditions, diagnoses, instruments, and various procedures involved with endodontic and periodontal dentistry
  • Discuss various procedures, conditions, and treatments in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics
  • Discuss procedures performed in a prosthodontic office and procedures for oral and maxillofacial surgeries

In this course, you’ll go over professional communication skills such as interpersonal communication, the eight levels of relating to others, conflict resolution, and how to greet patients. This course will also cover how to maintain the reception area and professional skills needed for business administration for the dental assistant.


  • Analyze professional communication skills
  • Discuss professional skills needed by a dental assistant for business administration of a dental office

In this course, you’ll study how to use appointment modules, account modules, chart and image modules, and how to manage employee information. You’ll learn the importance of maintaining a professional appearance and continuing professional development. This course also provides information on how to search for employment opportunities and what the next steps are once you locate employment opportunities.


  • Analyze appointment modules, account modules, chart and image modules, and managing employee information
  • Discuss professional appearance, professional development, and locating employment opportunities

Materials Received Upon Program Completion:

  • Mosby's Dental Assisting Exam Review

Additional Details

  • Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Penn Foster College Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster College has been nationally accredited for over 40 years, and has met the high standards of integrity and performance set by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) in Washington, D.C. Penn Foster College has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations and licensing. We also participate in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

DEAC and SARA Accreditation Logos
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Sample Dental Assistant Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand with materials broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what one of our Dental Assistant classes looks like.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.

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Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, Microsoft® Office 2019 or Microsoft 365®, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.