College of Health and Human Services


The Dental Assisting program is offered by the Department of Dental Education in the Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) College of Health and Human Services. 

Our program is recognized as a Best Practice Model for dental assisting programs throughout the United States and is accredited by the American Dental Association. CDAs are important members of the dental health care team who work with dentists in the delivery of dental care to patients. CDAs utilize their knowledge and clinical skills to provide dental care for patients in every specialty of dentistry. CDAs use their interpersonal skills to motivate and educate patients on methods to prevent oral disease and to maintain sound oral health. Dental assistants have one of the most diverse and interesting positions in the dental office. The job demands versatility and a willingness to assume responsibility for many different tasks. Dental assistants must have critical thinking skills, excellent hand skills, and work well with others.

You will find a Certified Dental Assistant in every office. They place braces on patients’ teeth (orthodontics), they work in surgery (oral surgery and periodontics), and they place tooth colored and silver fillings (restorative dentistry - EFDA) --  to name a few specialty areas of dentistry. Dental assistants have great flexibility in the dental field including private practice in general dental offices and in specialty dental offices. Career advancement for dental assistants may include: teaching dental assisting at IPFW, training staff in dental offices, office manager of the dental practice, supervisor of the clinical staff, or a dental product sales representative traveling throughout the state or region. The job outlook for dental assistants is excellent--employment in this field is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2016. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that it will be the third fastest growing occupation.


A Day in a Certified Dental Assistant's (CDA) Life:

On a typical day a Certified Dental Assistant will:

  • make patients feel at ease in the dental chair;
  • collect dental and medical history information, and record clinical findings;
  • work chairside with the dentist - exchanging instruments and materials, and keeping the mouth free of debris;
  • sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment;
  • prepare tray setups for dental procedures;
  •  instruct patients on postoperative and oral health care, including nutrition;
  • expose and process dental radiographs;
  • place and finish tooth colored and silver fillings;
  • place braces on teeth such as brackets, bands, wires, and elastics
  • assist in oral surgery;
  • remove sutures;
  • apply topical anesthetics and assist with anesthetic administration;
  • apply dental sealants to teeth;
  • place dental dam on the teeth to isolate them for individual treatment;
  • take impressions and bit registrations for prostheses;
  • make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions;
  • clean and polish removable appliances;
  • make temporary crowns and bridges;
  • schedule and confirm appointments;
  • receive patients;
  • keep treatment records;
  • send bills and receive payments;
  • order supplies and materials