Dental Assisting


A dental assistant is an important member of an efficient dental team—providing valuable service to both the office and the patient. An assistant anticipates the needs of a dentist and aids in intraoral procedures, takes x-rays, prepares lab work, is responsible for disinfection/sterilization protocols, and can also perform office administration duties.

Elgin Community College’s dental assisting program is comprised of three certificates completed in three semesters, each of which prepares you for an active role in dentistry through classroom, laboratory, and hands-on experiences in modern, high-tech facilities. While there, highly experienced dental professionals teach and supervise all on- and off-campus activities.

Get additional information, including course listings and class descriptions.

Dental Office Aide

The first of three dental assisting semesters. Dental Office Aide can be taken alone, culminating in a Basic Vocational Specialist certificate, or the coursework can be integrated within the clinical dental assisting certificate program. These first semester courses establish a strong foundation for dental assistants, including dental anatomy, aseptic techniques, materials, and chairside assisting. These courses may also be of interest to students who wish to learn more about other careers in dentistry.

Preclinical Dental Assisting

The second of three dental assisting semesters. Preclinical Dental Assisting can be taken after completing the first semester, culminating in a Basic Vocational Specialist certificate, or the coursework can be integrated within the clinical dental assisting certificate program. Preclinical dental assistant students build on the dental office aide certificate by continuing their education with advanced courses in chairside assisting and dental materials and additional courses in dental radiography and dental records and communication. Preclinical dental assisting is the prerequisite to a Vocational Specialist certificate in clinical dental assisting.

Clinical Dental Assisting

The third and final semester of the Vocational Specialist certificate in clinical dental assisting focuses on hands-on practical experience gained through placement in an Elgin-area general practice and specialty dental office. Students acquire 336 clinical hours during this semester to complete the program. During or after this semester, you can take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination, the nationally recognized certification organization for dental assistants, and become a certified dental assistant (CDA). This certification is recognized throughout the country as a high level of professional competence.

Additional education options

All dental assisting classes can be used as electives for a transfer degree.

In addition, students and currently employed dental assistants are eligible to take the DEA 113 Special Projects course for expanded training in coronal polishing and pit and fissure sealants.


The ECC Dental Assisting Program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA), American Dental Association (ADA), 211 East Chicago Avenue, Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60611-2678, 312-440-4653.

Program Highlights

Prepare for Immediate Employment

Vocational Certificate

Basic Certificate

Planning to Transfer

Learn more about earning a Bachelor’s degree, earning summer credits for transfer, or dual admissions with a university by visiting University Transfer & Partnerships.

Learn more about the Dental Assisting department at ECC!

Earning a Vocational Certificate at ECC can set your career in motion!

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