Best Online Certificate Programs for Dental Assistant: Guide to Online Diplomas for 2023

Best Online Certificate Programs for Dental Assistant: Guide to Online Diplomas for 2023
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

The demand for regular dental appointments is on the rise in America as more and more people are realizing the importance of oral health. Furthermore, the introduction of better health insurance policies is encouraging individuals to seek dental care. These factors, coupled with the expanding need for dental assistants, have led to an increase in demand for dental assistants. In light of this growing demand, many people are seeking ways to enter the field of dental assisting without having to sacrifice their current work or personal commitments. In this post, we will explore why many are turning to online certificate programs for dental assistants.

Recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that dental assisting is a developing, high-income sector. Online dental assistant certificate programs can help those interested get started. Many students and professionals seeking a quick career change are attracted to online dentistry help programs. As dental assistants gain experience and/or education, they become qualified for higher roles like office managers or dental hygienists (Best Colleges, n.d.).

Budding dental assistants need to manifest effective communication and organizational skills, detail-orientedness, health consciousness, impressive administrative skills, and commitment to health. Moreover, academic requirements for this program depend on state regulations. Some states mandate students to earn their certification from an accredited program and pass a national exam before becoming dental assistants. Other states require practicum experience instead of formal education (Drummond, n.d.).

Find out what an online dental assistant certificate program has to offer with regard to convenience, affordability, career paths, and salary potential.

online certificate in dental assistance program

Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. Online vs. Traditional Certificate in Dental Assistance Program
  5. How much does an online certificate in dental assistance program cost?
  6. What are the requirements of an online certificate in dental assistance program?
  7. Courses to Expect in Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs
  8. Things to Look for in an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program

Can you get a degree completely online?

Yes. As a matter of fact, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that in 2018, 15% of American college students accomplished their degrees completely online. Business, healthcare, education, and computer/information science are the most popular online degree courses (Thompson, 2021).

Dental assistant certification can be accomplished online. This program can be difficult at times, but with enough preparation, earning this certification is absolutely attainable and can bring you success in the long run (Best Colleges, n.d.).

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

Online learning schools have been gradually adapting to the industries they aim to support. Most misconceptions about online degree programs have also been eradicated. For these reasons, most employers now do not really see much difference between an online degree and an on-campus degree (Thompson, 2021).

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

The COVID-19 pandemic boosted online learning participation, resulting in the reevaluation of academic standards globally. Many academic institutes now realize the vital role the internet plays in terms of education and reaching out to students. With access to worldwide, robust, and inexpensive online education, students have more opportunities when earning a degree wherever they may be in the world. On top of that, they will be more perceptive, diverse, and high-performing as soon as they enter the workforce (Kis, 2021).

COVID-19 has massively impacted healthcare, including the dental industry. Published at the European Journal of Dentistry, the 2020 article “Coronavirus Disease 2019 Coexistence in the Daily Practice” shares a preceding outlook on COVID-19, possible ways of curing dental patients, and the initiatives to safeguard healthcare professionals and patients from cross-infection. Marco Tallarico et al. begin the article by explaining how COVID-19 poses a huge risk to many dentists, “Dentist is classified as a job with very high exposure risk to known or suspected sources of COVID-19. First, dentists need intimate contacts (within 3 feet) with people, and then dental healthcare workers performed every day during dental work, aerosol-generating and blood-borne procedures from potentially infected patients.” This concern urged dental professionals to follow prevention and control measures within their offices, one of which is the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Dentistry is deemed important as it evaluates, diagnoses, prevents, and treats oral diseases affecting systemic health. “Nevertheless, because of the infection risks associated with aerosol-generated procedures, dentists around the world have been essentially closed since late March 2020. During this period, there was limited access to emergency dental care. Dental services are now slowly and tentatively beginning to reopen, although there is considerable variation in the guidance being issued on the safety procedures required.”

Online vs. Traditional Certificate in Dental Assistance Program

An online dental assistance certificate program is the minimum education level required to become a dental assistant. Coursework comprises both academic and clinical instruction. This program teaches the fundamental education in theories of biomedical science, as well as theories of disease and nutrition; dental radiology, dental materials, and dental science; and legal and ethical considerations of dental practice. Community colleges, technical institutes, vocational schools, dental schools, and universities offer these programs (Edumed, 2020).

Upon program completion, students will qualify for entry-level positions in hospitals, private practices, and clinics. They will also qualify for licensure exams or state-specific certification to become dental assistants.

While many top online dental assistance certificate programs issue a certificate or diploma, others lead to an associate degree. Associate degrees usually equip graduates for similar careers, but they can also be a stepping stone for continuing education, such as majoring in a dentistry-focused area.

Program Length

The exact structure of dental assistance programs varies, but some of them can be finished in less than a year. That is because there are hardly any general education courses. That also means you earn fewer than the credits you need for a bachelor’s degree.

Distance learning may expedite completion of these programs, but practicum or laboratory subjects may oblige personal visits.


Online dental assistance certification is a convenient way to learn at any time and from any location. Taking it on-campus means that you will have to be physically present at designated schedules and venues.

Communication With Instructors

Asking questions or talking to instructors online adds more value to learning; doing this in a classroom setting can be more interactive, fun, and uncomplicated.

Is an online degree cheaper?

More often than not, an online degree is cheaper than an on-campus degree. However, not all schools have the same offerings. Ultimately, you will have a variety of options to choose from depending on costs and beyond your area of residence. As you conduct your school search, you will learn how many cheap online degrees are there (OnlineU,  2021).

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

To set the record straight, an online degree carries just as much substance and gets the same level of respect as a regular degree. Nevertheless, it is always best to do your homework. Attend an accredited school, find out what employers look for in an obtained online degree, and widen your experience.

How much does an online certificate in dental assistance program cost?

Costs for top online dental assistance certificate programs rely on personal circumstances, like location, school, and program type. Some programs have more expensive prices due to their clinical internship offerings and advanced medical equipment (Unitek College, 2021).

The average dental assistant tuition and fees of on-campus programs for the 2020-2021 school year is $14,164 (College Tuition Compare, n.d.). Meanwhile, its online or hybrid learning counterparts usually charge lower costs (Edumed, 2021).

Is an online certificate in dental assistance program worth it?

Dental assistants are tasked to perform duties, such as cleaning and preparing workstations and facilities, teaching oral care to patients, and assisting dentists, during their work in a dental office. They may also be asked to work on administrative duties, including billing, scheduling, and documentation.

Dental assisting, dental hygienist, and dental laboratory technician jobs are predicted to increase faster than any other occupations (Best Colleges, n.d.). Additionally, the 2021 U.S. News & World Report survey ranks dental assisting jobs as the 15th key healthcare support career in the country (All Allied Health Schools, n.d.).

Dental clinics are composed of over 91% dental assistants (The Best Schools, 2021). As the dental industry continues to grow, knowledgeable and trained dental assistants will have more job opportunities awaiting them. They are also eligible to work even in some states that do not mandate college education or national certification.

Unitek College, 2021

What are the requirements of an online certificate in dental assistance program?

Admission Requirements

  • High school diploma or General Education Development Test (GED)
  • Prerequisite coursework
  • Official transcripts
  • CPR certification
  • Drug screening
  • Physical examination
  • Information, advising, and orientation sessions attendance

General Requirements

  • Completed application
  • Personal essay
  • Background check

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

To make an online dental assistance certificate program more conducive to learning and productivity, students must be technologically adept and have the necessary tools such as a reliable PC or laptop and a stable internet connection.

Courses to Expect in Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program

  • Dental Materials. Dental materials teaches dental terminologies and the proper use of basic dental materials, facilities, and tools. This course also explores ideas behind materials and instruments, as well as relevant safety issues. Discussions commonly include waxes, gypsums, metals, and acrylics.
  • Dental Anatomy. Dental anatomy studies the dental form and upskills students to point out basic dentitions, general oral anatomy, and facial bones. This course also examines usual diagnoses and cures for diseases. Furthermore, it covers precautionary and corrective oral care, and how they can prevent any dental problems that may arise.
  • Office Administration. Office administration delves into the standard dental office administrator roles. These roles include schedule management, insurance claims, and inventory. This course may also teach about administrative software.
  • Radiography. Radiography teaches the right way of taking intraoral and extraoral X-rays, in which students will learn about efficient and safe image processing.
  • Infection Control. Infection control traverses topics on infection treatment and prevention in the dental industry. Expect to learn more about microorganisms and infections, as well as proper equipment sterilization, in this course.

Source: CDC

Things to Look for in an Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Program

There are many online programs out there, but this does not mean that you can enroll in just any school or program. Below are factors to be mindful of when looking for online certificate programs for dental assistant.


The American Dental Association (ADA) and Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) hold high standards when it comes to education. CODA accredits numerous dental schools and programs, not to mention predoctoral, advanced, and allied dental education programs.

Available Specializations

Specialization in this program can be infection control, oral surgery, and radiography. These specializations can enhance career prospects and aid in corresponding certification exams.

Certification and Licensure Preparation

Ensure that a program can provide you with many hands-on learning experiences, simulation activities, or internships as these can help you prepare for professional certification.

Excellent Faculty

The quality of a school and your determination to study and finish a program will only suffer if your instructors do not have the relevant and extensive dental assisting experience. Read teacher biographies and make sure that they have worked for years in the industry prior to teaching. Their ability to share real-life experiences should not be limited.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is only available to students of accredited academic institutes. Some assistance available to dental assisting students are ADA-provided grants and awards, corporation scholarships, aid from the Veterans Administration, and Health Careers Opportunity Program for disadvantaged students.

Dental Assistants: Helping Communities Achieve Overall Health and Wellness

Dental assistants have an essential part to play in dentistry. Besides assisting dentists in their day-to-day tasks, they also make patients feel listened to and at ease before and during their appointments. Evidently, their work contributes to the overall health and wellness of their communities. Successful dental assistants are those who are not just great at what they do but also make a positive change in the lives of others.

If you do not have the luxury of time to study dental assistance on-campus but plan to venture into the dentistry workforce the soonest, online education would the perfect choice for you (Unitek College, n.d.). Learner control, accessibility, availability, and customization are some of the elearning benefits. You learn at your own pace from anywhere, and there’s no need to leave your present commitments.



  1. All Allied Health Schools. (n.d.). How to Become a Certified Dental Assistant: Requirements and Certifications. All Allied Health Schools.
  2. Best Colleges (n.d.). Best Online Certificate in Dental Assistance Programs of 2020. Best Colleges.
  3. College Tuition Compare. (n.d.). Dental Assisting/Assistant Vocational Programs. College Tuition Compare.
  4. Drummond, R. (n.d.). Accredited Online Dental Assistant Schools – Degrees & Certificates. Medical Technology Schools.
  5. Edumed Staff. (2020, September 2). Inside Top Online Dental Assistant Programs. Edumed.
  6. Intelligent. (n.d.). The Best Online Degrees. Intelligent.
  7. Kis, D. (2021, June 1). How COVID-19 is ending the stigma of online learning. World Economic Forum.
  8. Learn How to Become. (n.d.). How to Become a Dental Assistant: Dental Assistant Schools & Careers. Learn How to Become.
  9. Miller, S. (2020, July 10). How Much Does Dental Assistant School Cost? Vocational Training HQ.
  10. Tallarico, M., Cicciu, M., Lumbau, A. I., & Meloni S. M. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 Coexistence in the Daily Practice. Thieme Connect.
  11. TBS Staff. (2021, June 16). The Best Online Dental Assisting Programs. The Best Schools.
  12. Thompson, E. (2021, March 15). Will Employers Take My Online Degree Seriously? The Best Schools.
  13. (2021, May 25). Best Dental Assisting Programs.
  14. Unitek College. (2021, March 11). How to Become a Dental Assistant. Unitek College.

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