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Dental Assisting

Orientation Information

School Schedule

The Foothill College Dental Assisting program is a rigorous ten-month program for full-time students.

  • You should expect to be in school from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
  • There are times when classes are held earlier than 9 a.m. or later than 5 p.m.
  • It is difficult to work while attending the program. Students who work usually have flexible job schedules or work only during the weekends.
  • Social functions, work responsibilities, and other personal appointments must be scheduled outside of class time.
  • Attendance is closely monitored as that the dental assisting program is preparing it's graduates to be successful employees in the dental workforce.
  • Poor attendance or tardiness will result in dismissal of the student from classes.

How hard is the program?

The Foothill College Dental Assisting program is a rigorous and intensive program. Every year many students mention the fact that going through the program is a lot harder than what they thought it would be like. Multiple tests can be given on the same day. Cumulative midterm and final exams are given for many classes to help prepare the students to successfully pass difficult state and national written and hands-on licensure examinations.

Certification and licensing

Career Certificates are awarded to students who complete all of the courses with a "C" grade or better as outlined on the front page of the blue curriculum sheet. Dental assisting students can take national and state licensing examinations once he/she is awarded the certificate.

Dental assisting students are allowed one grade of "D" in the core dental assisting courses (the "D" grade must be remediated). A grade if "F" will result in dismissal from the program. Dental assisting classes occupy a majority of the day. If the full time student needs to take required courses for the certificate such as English or math etc., those classes may have to be taken in the evening while attending the program.

Required courses such as English and math can be taken after completion of the core dental assisting courses, however, this will delay the awarding of the certificate.

Math and English requirements

Required courses other than the core dental assisting classes are eligibility for English 110 (or equivalent) or for ESLL 25 (or equivalent) and and eligibility for Math 220. Students can take the Foothill College math and English placement tests to "pass out" of the reading and math requirement. DeAnza English and Math assessment tests are not transferable. Students who have taken English or math courses at other colleges need to check with the Dental Counselor, Ms. Brenda Johnson, to see if those courses meet the requirements.

Student Kit and Fee

The student kit is purchased through the ULCA Health Sciences Store. The kit consists of a dental x-ray film, tooth models, and other materials that the dental assisting student will be using throughout the year. Fees for the student kit will be paid upon delivery of the kit at the beginning of each quarter. The fee estimate in the dental assisting application is only an estimate and the actual fee may be higher or lower.

Purchase of the kit is mandatory and no substitutions from outside sources can be made.


Students are required to wear a uniform when attending all classes.

Students are required to wear surgical scrubs and closed toe shoes.

Students are responsible for purchasing their uniform before Fall quarter.

Clinical rotations during Spring quarter

In Fall quarter (September to December), during the last half of Fall quarter, students will have a clinical rotation at the UCSF School of Dentistry on Thursdays.  The rest of the time will be spent in the classroom.

In Winter quarter (January to March), the dental assisting students have a clinical rotation at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry. This rotation will occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All dental specialties such as periodontics, oral surgery, prosthodontics, orthodontics, and children's dentistry, are taught to dental students and residents at the UCSF School of Dentistry. The dental school teaches state-of-the art dental procedures and materials which provides a thorough introduction to dentistry to the dental assisting students.

In Spring quarter (April to June) the dental assisting students have a clinical rotation in private dental offices on Tuesday and Thursday. The Foothill College Dental Assisting program has contracts with private dental offices in the community surrounding Foothill College. This area is the mid-peninsula area (Mountain View, Redwood City, Palo Alto). Students in the Foothill College Dental Assisting program will need reliable transportation to his/her clinical rotation in this area. Hardship cases e.g. no car, child care time deadlines are considered on a case-to-case basis and need to be brought to the attention of the clinical supervisor. All attempts will be made to accommodate special requests.

Student conduct

The primary goal of the Foothill College Dental Assisting Program is to prepare students to successfully work in a private dental office in a diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and ethnic environment. Teamwork is emphasized and students who are admitted into the dental assisting program are encouraged to work together with other students during laboratory sessions. The instructor often arranges lab partners and changes are not acceptable. Therefore, students should make an effort to get along with all of the students. We do not expect everyone to be friends but the student should be at least civil to each other.

Students are not only required to work together but will also be working in the mouth of other students for certain procedures. This close and personnel working relationship can be unpleasant if students do not get along with each other.

Radiology and Coronal polishing requirements

Dental assisting students are required to provide their own patients to take full mouth and bite wing x-rays. X-ray patients will be needed during the months of January to June. Students should recruit their friends and family members now as that bite wing x-rays can be taken only once a year and full mouth x-rays can be taken only every 3 to 5 years.

During the months of April to June, the dental assisting student will be learning how to polish teeth and will need two patients with a minimum of 15 teeth. Coronal polishing patients must have their teeth cleaned prior to polishing. The cleaning should be completed between the months of March or April. Coronal polishing patients should get their teeth cleaned by their private dentist or can go to the Foothill College Dental Hygiene Clinic. Cleanings are $30.00, however, appointments must be made well in advance. Cleanings in the dental hygiene clinic will take from 2 to 4 appointments and the appointments are 3 hours in length. The patient should not expect to leave early unless otherwise told so.

Physical examinations

All students must complete a physical examination before the starting the program. Standard forms are used and will need to be completed and filled out by a physician. Medical examination forms are due the first day of school in September.

Hepatitis B antibody, tuberculosis, a rubella test, and other vaccinations or proof of vaccinations must be performed by your physician and a copy of the lab results must be attached to the form.

Students who have a positive tuberculosis skin test must have a chest x-ray and clearance from their physician prior to attending a clinical rotation.

Hepatitis B vaccination

All students should consider vaccination against Hepatitis B. The vaccination can be obtained from the Foothill College Student Health Center. Students can also obtain the vaccination from his/her private physician. The vaccination is a series of three injections. The second injection is give one month after the first injection and the third injection is given six months after the first injection.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

All students must take CPR. Students can call either the local American Red Cross ("CPR for the Professional Rescuer"), or the American Heart Association ("Healthcare Provider") for classes. It is the student's responsibility to accomplish this certification before the start of Fall quarter (September).

Note: If for some reason the student decides not to attend the dental assisting program, please notify the director, C. Miyasaki, (650) 949-7351 as that there will be students on a waiting list.

Background Check and Physical Examination Required

All applicants admitted into this program are required to undergo standard Federal background checks with all costs borne by the student.

Students will also be required to complete a physical examination, including drug testing, by a physician of your choice.

  • Admission will be contingent upon completion of this examination.
  • The completed physical examination form must be returned to the Foothill College Dental Assisting Program by the first day of school.
  • This evaluation will help us to determine your ability to comply with the technical standards of the program which are listed on the application.
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Questions?We're Here to Help!

Cara Miyasaki, RDHEF, MS , Director


Building 5200, Room 5206