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.


The IPFW Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)

Clinical - Certified Dental Assistants

  • take dental radiographs;
  • apply dental sealants;
  • place and finish tooth-colored and silver fillings;
  • place braces on teeth, such as brackets, bands, wires, and elastics
  • assist in oral surgery and remove sutures;
  • apply topical anesthetics and assist with anesthetic administration;
  • collect dental and medical history information, and record clinical findings;
  • instruct patients on postoperative and oral health care, including nutrition;
  • take impressions and bite registrations for prostheses;
  • make temporary crowns and bridges;
  • in charge of sterilization in the dental office;
  • make patients feel at ease in the dental chair
  • order dental supplies and materials

Business - Certified Dental Assistants

  • responsible for accounts payable and receivable;
  • schedules and confirms appointments;
  • maintains treatment records;
  • works with dental insurance companies