One of the fastest-growing careers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is dental assisting, and for those who offer training programs, that presents both challenge and opportunity.

One such program is Dental Assisting Technol-ogies, a new vocational school at 1030 41st St., Moline. It offers a 12-week condensed course and is state approved to award certificates in coronal polishing and sealant placement, CPR and dental assisting.

Sherri Mikles and Janean Brown, owners of Dental Assisting Technologies, teach the Saturday-only program that is certified by the Illinois Board of Education and combines home study and hands-on experience in a dental office setting.

The curriculum was designed to provide students the opportunity to gain knowledge, expertise and certifications required to work as a dental assistant while maintaining their current employment.

Through the program, students learn about dental anatomy, disinfection, sterilization, radiography, dental instruments, cements and sealants, dental techniques and making impressions and molds.

Students also learn terminology, tooth names and numbers, charting, scheduling and skills to help improve patient comfort and anxiety control. The class finishes with a review of resume writing and interviewing skills.

A portion of the curriculum is taught by Dr. Ronald a Moline dentist, and leads to a certificate in coronal polishing and sealant placement from the American Dental Association. “This certificate tells prospective employers that the students have actually worked on teeth and therefore possess real hands-on experience,” Riggins said.

Graduates also receive CPR certification as mandated by the American Heart Association. Mikles and Brown said the expanded coursework and additional certificates not only heighten the knowledge but also increase the marketability of graduates.

Both instructors have extensive dental assisting experience. Mikles taught at a dental assistant school  in Rock Island until it was discontinued. She has been a dental assistant for 25 years and works for Dr. David Lemon in Moline.

Brown recently moved to the Quad-Cities from Virginia with 20 years experience in a dental office. There, she worked 10 years as a dental assistant and 10 years as the financial coordinator and office manager.

Mikles and Brown say they appreciate the opportunity to teach others what they have learned.

“I can’t imagine not assisting,” Mikles said. “It is a joy to share what we do with others.”

Mikles and Brown agree with the national projection of a 42.7 percent growth in the field between 2004 and 2014. Mikles said that because dentists are learning ever-changing technologies that require more of their time and expertise, they rely on assistants to perform more tasks.

“Each dentist usually employs two or three assistants,” Mikles said, “so there is strong opportunity for employment for our graduates.” 

Information about the Dental Assisting Technologies program is available by calling (309) 631-1515. Applicants must be 18 years old by the first day of class and have earned a high school diploma or GED.

Lynn Thompson can be contacted at (563) 383-2323 or lthompson@qctimes.com.