Overview

The Dental Assisting program focuses on patient-centred care to improve oral health as a key to personal health and well-being.

As vital dental health team members, dental assistants work in private dental clinics, specialists’ offices and community health centres. In this program, you'll develop knowledge and experience in clinic operations, chair-side procedures, intra-oral procedures, patient education and interpersonal skills.

Over three semesters of full-time studies, you'll attend classes and learn in a dental clinic setting. The clinical components include patient education, radiographs, selective rubber cup polishing and fluoride application.

To be successful as a dental assistant, you'll need to develop the following:

  • fine motor skills
  • critical thinking
  • effective communication skills (speaking, reading, writing, and listening)
  • the ability to participate in classroom, lab, and practicum activities as scheduled by the program
  • ability to work well under stress
  • ability to use technology
  • attention to detail
  • ability to maintain professional behaviour and emotionally self-regulate
  • wear Personal Protective Equipment for extended periods and tolerate latex and disinfection chemicals
  • work extended hours, including nights and/or weekends and shift work
  • ability to tolerate the sight of human blood and tissue
  • ability to meet the physical demands of the job (for example, spending most hours working on your feet, walking, repetitive bending, and repetitive tasks)
  • ability to sit for long periods (three to four hours)
  • become comfortable performing patient care procedures which may be sensitive or performed in close proximity.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to refer to the ALIS website for career, learning, and employment information for Dental Assistants, as well as the governing body’s competency profile for the profession, to understand the skills required to meet all the competency-based objectives for the program and profession.

The opportunity to advance your education by transferring into this program or gain credit for previous postsecondary courses may be available.

There may also be opportunities to further your education by transferring to another institution once you graduate.

Learn more about program and institution transfer options.

The School of Health and Public Safety has many practica partners in Alberta and Canada. Practicum placements in Calgary are limited, and you may be required to travel or relocate outside the city.

Successful applicants will be assigned their practicum placement. While we'll strive to assign your practicum location based on your preference, it is not guaranteed. Special considerations will not be given. You will be responsible for fees associated with the practicum, such as entrance requirements, relocation and travel costs.

In compliance with the practica agreements with our clinical partners, successful applicants will be requested to provide proof of the following requirements:

  • Current Heart and Stroke Foundation Health Care Provider Level (C) CPR
  • Heart and Stroke Basic Life Support (BLS) Provider course
  • Updated immunization records
  • Police information check 
  • Health and wellness status

More about practicum requirements >

The Dental Assisting program delivered by SAIT is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.

Graduates must write the National Dental Assisting Examining Board examination to be registered in Alberta. Once passed, they are licensed by the College of Alberta Dental Assistants as Registered Dental Assistants.

After successfully completing this program, graduates will receive a SAIT Dental Assisting certificate.

Download program info

Careers and opportunities

Each year, SAIT conducts a survey between February and April to determine the employment rate, salary and satisfaction of our newest SAIT alumni. 

people icon 98% graduate employment rate

salary icon $48,230 average starting salary

Find out more about our graduate employment statistics >

Our graduates may work in the following occupations. Some careers require additional experience and education.

Associated National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes: 33100, 32111, 32112.

Test

Career counselling and support

Unsure which career path is for you? SAIT offers career planning services to help you decide your future.

You can also get started by taking our online career finder quiz, which can help you narrow down your search based on your current skills and interests.

Finally, you can also head to Alberta alis for various tools and resources, including additional quizzes and labour market information to help you narrow down a career path.

Services and workshops

Courses

The Dental Assisiting certificate requires 40.5 credits (18 courses) to complete.

The program spans one year, with three semesters.

View classes by semester

Course Credits

Clinical Foundations provides an overview of the armamentarium and procedures for general operations of a dental office and the SAIT Dental Clinic.

1.5

Preventive Procedures 1 provides learners with theoretical knowledge and opportunities for developing the dexterity required to perform dental assisting preventive intra-oral skills. The theory component provides evidenced-based knowledge in preventive procedures, the etiology of dental diseases, patient education principles, anticarious agents and desensitization in relation to patient assessment and the process of patient care. The laboratory component provides a solid clinical foundation for performing dental inspections, selective coronal polishing, full mouth probing, fluoride treatments and the application of desensitizing agents.

3

This course introduces the initial stages of a restorative dental procedure. Topics include the dental assistant's role, pain control, isolation techniques, instrumentation, dental liners, bases and matrices. These foundational skills will support students’ ability to explore additional elements of restorative procedures in more depth subsequently in the program.

3

This course presents the basic principles of pharmacology. Learners will develop the skills to accurately obtain and record vital signs, investigate health histories, and identify and manage medical emergencies common to the dental environment. In addition, learners will critically analyze, maintain, and accurately complete dental records and clinical charts. Legal and ethical professional codes of conduct are also discussed concerning documentation and confidentiality.

3

Dental Specialties 1 introduces the learner to various disciplines in dentistry. Learners will be exposed to orthodontic, pedodontic, endodontic and other specialty procedures through supporting theory and clinical observations.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
1.5

This course introduces basic terminology related to the head, neck and oral cavity structures. Tooth structure, the function of dental tissues in health, and pathological conditions will be discussed. Learners will apply the theory of the dental care process in a lab setting.

3

This course introduces dental assisting procedures for fixed prosthetics. Learners will have opportunities to work with materials associated with these procedures in the SAIT Dental Clinic and dental lab.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
3

This course will provide clinical sessions for learners to develop competencies in assessing, implementing and evaluating preventive intra-oral services for patients. Learners will practice critical thinking skills in applying patient history, clinical observations, oral health education, rubber cup polish, desensitizing, and fluoride treatments. A dental assisting plan for treatment will be completed in each session to adapt dental assisting care to the patient's individual needs.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
1.5

Practice Management provides an overview of dental office procedures and management skills, focusing on assisting learners in developing the skills required to be contributing team members. Topics will include conflict management, problem-solving, decision-making, developing patient/client relations, leadership and legal and ethical issues in the dental workplace.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
3

Restorative Procedures 2 builds upon the basic restorative procedures covered in Restorative Procedures 1 and will introduce various types of restorative materials.

1.5

Prosthodontics 2 introduces assisting procedures associated with removable prosthetics. Learners will develop competency working with materials involved in a removable prosthodontic procedure.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 227
  • DENT 252
  • DENT 262
  • DENT 263
  • DENT 276
  • NUTR 230
  • XRAY 250
1.5

This course is a continuation of Dental Specialties 1 and provides additional knowledge of various disciplines of dentistry. The students will be exposed to periodontic and oral surgery procedures through supporting theory and clinical observation.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 227
  • DENT 252
  • DENT 262
  • DENT 263
  • DENT 276
  • NUTR 230
  • XRAY 250
1.5

Preventive Procedures provides theory and clinical sessions for learners to attain competency in applying enamel sealants. Learners will use various isolation techniques to apply sealants on mannequins and patients. Other topics include self-evaluation and patient education.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 227
  • DENT 252
  • DENT 262
  • DENT 263
  • DENT 276
  • NUTR 230
  • XRAY 250
3

The chain of infection and methods of preventing and controlling microorganisms, including blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), will be reviewed. Immunization, routine practice, additional isolation precautions, sterilization and disinfection, safety and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are also covered.

1.5

Nutrition examines the relationship between nutrition and dental health. Focus will be placed upon identifying patient needs and providing nutritional advice to support optimal oral/dental health.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
1.5

DA Practicum requires learners to complete a four-week practicum in a dental office where they will apply their learning and skills in a dental setting. Focus will be placed on patient-centered care and becoming practice-ready.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 227
  • DENT 252
  • DENT 262
  • DENT 263
  • DENT 276
  • NUTR 230
  • XRAY 250
3

Dental Radiography 1 presents theoretical considerations underlying dental radiologic practices. Techniques for exposing various radiographs and the processing and mountings of films will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on radiation hygiene and safety procedures.

3

Dental Radiography 2 allows learners to develop competency and efficiency when providing radiographic services for clients in a clinical setting.

Pre-requisites:
  • DENT 201
  • DENT 202
  • DENT 206
  • DENT 207
  • DENT 237
  • INFC 215
  • XRAY 200
1.5

Progression

Students must attain a PGPA and/or a CGPA of 2.0 or better in each semester and pass the necessary prerequisite courses to progress through the program. To qualify for graduation, students must pass all courses, attain a CGPA of 2.0 or better and complete course requirements within the prescribed timelines.

Review our grading and progression procedure >

hall

Explore your options!

Some courses in this program are available through Open Studies. You can complete courses via Open Studies to get a head start on your education, reduce your course load once accepted into a credentialed program, or determine which career path best suits you before you fully commit. 

You may also take courses for general interest or personal and professional development.

Available Open Studies courses

Admission requirements

Applicants educated in Canada

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency and complete the following courses or equivalents with an overall average of at least 60%:

  • Math 30-1 or Math 30-2, and
  • English Language Arts 30-1 or English Language Arts 30-2, and
  • Biology 30, and
  • Chemistry 30.

SAIT accepts high school course equivalents for admission for applicants educated outside Alberta.

Student information and dental health examinations are required by the first day of class.

All applicants who were educated outside of Canada must demonstrate English Language proficiency and provide proof they meet the program admission requirements with an international document assessment. Find out what educational documents are accepted and assessment options.

SAIT may also accept courses completed at certain international post-secondary institutions.

hall

Academic Upgrading

Missing an admission requirement for this program? Upgrade your prior education to help you receive admission into one of SAIT's career programs.

Upgrade
hall

English language proficiency

All applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency prior to admission, including students educated in Canada.

Learn more

Available intakes

Spring 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Closed
  • Application deadline: Feb. 23, 2024
International students: Closed
  • Application deadline: Jan. 22, 2024

Fall 2024

Start dates:

Domestic students: Closed
  • Application deadline: June 28, 2024
International students: Closed
  • Application deadline: May 28, 2024

Costs

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023. They are an estimate of tuition and fees based on the recommended course load per year.

Domestic students

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 3 $8,464.50 $2,030 $10,494.50
Total cost:
$10,494.50

Year Number of semesters Tuition fees Additional fees Total per year
1 3 $24,027.03 $2,030 $26,057.03
Total cost:
$26,057.03

Books and supplies are approximately $1,000 - $1,500 per full-time year.

This is a bring-your-own-device program with a standard computer hardware and software requirement. See the specific requirements on our computers and laptops page.

Find your booklist on the SAIT Bookstore's website. The booklist will be available closer to the program start date.

Can’t find your program or course? The bookstore didn't receive a textbook list. Contact your program directly to determine if they’re still refining course details or if you're in luck; no textbook purchase is required this term.

Required personal protective equipment (PPE) and uniform

The industry-approved PPE and uniform you'll need will be discussed during your orientation.

Personal protective equipment will cost $50 or higher, depending on individual requirements. Dental assistants must wear safety glasses or face shields during dental procedures. Glasses must have solid side shields and cannot be regular prescription glasses. Prescription lenses can be placed in safety glass frames, or the dental assistant can wear safety glasses which fit over prescription glasses or a face shield over safety glasses.

Additional fees 

  • A fee is associated with obtaining a Police Information Check (including Vulnerable Sector Check), payable to the police or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
  • The National Dental Assisting Examining Board exam fee is approximately $450. The College of Alberta Dental Assistants' annual dues are approximately $300.
  • CPRS 001 BLS Provider (Level C) CPR course. Annual update required (CPRS 002 BLS Renewal [Level C] CPR). 
  • Students must have their immunizations reviewed by the SAIT Health Clinic. There is a $75 charge to review vaccine history. Any vaccines to be administered will result in additional charges.
  • A fee of approximately $50 – $100 is associated with an Electronic Student Permit Checking submission required for clinical practicum placements, payable to Synergy Gateway through the Verified software platform.
sait

Financial aid

Paying for your education may feel overwhelming, but we have resources and programs that can help, including information about payment options, student loans, grants and scholarships.

Learn more
Canada Alberta Job Grant icon

This program is eligible for Canada Alberta Job Grant funding.

Application process

Ready to apply?

Follow our step-by-step guide to submitting a successful application.

Learn how to apply

Communication during admission

Email is the primary source of communication during the admission process. Ensure your personal email account is managed appropriately to receive our emails, files and communications. 

We recommend you add hps.info@sait.ca domain to your safe senders' list or you risk missing critical email messages. 

sait

Begin your application

Apply now using the online application portal. 

Ensure you have a valid Visa or Mastercard to pay the non-refundable application fee of $120 for domestic applicants or $150 for international applicants. 

Apply now

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact us

School of Health and Public Safety Advising

Phone
403.284.8500
Email
hps.info@sait.ca

International Student Advising

Phone
403.284.8852
Email
international@sait.ca