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Careers in Dental Health

The Facts

The field of dentistry offers many opportunities for rewarding careers in North Carolina (PDF, 102KB). Professional oral health care requires a team effort to ensure success. The core of the oral health care team is comprised of dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental laboratory technicians.

  • Dentist: The dentist is responsible and accountable for everything that goes on in the dental office or clinic. Only a licensed dentist is educated and trained to diagnose dental problems, plan treatment or prescribe medication or refer to dental specialists. As long as the licensed dentist supervises, certain phases of dental treatment may be delegated to other members of the dental team. Dentists can be either general practitioners or specialists. The American Dental Association recognizes nine professional dental specialties. external link
  • Dental Hygienist: The dental hygienist cleans teeth and performs other functions under the direction and supervision of a licensed dentist. North Carolina dental hygienists must be licensed. Their title is Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH).
  • Dental Assistant: Under the supervision of a licensed dentist, the job of the dental assistant is to help the dentist at chair-side, take x-rays and perform other support functions. There are two categories of dental assistants working in North Carolina: Dental Assistant (DA) and Certified Dental Assistant (CDA).
  • Dental Laboratory Technician: The dental laboratory technician, with a prescription from a licensed dentist, uses models and measurements to fabricate dentures, crowns and other dental prosthetic devices.

These team members provide the services necessary for total oral health care. These services include oral health education, disease prevention, disease detection, diagnosis and treatment, aesthetic improvement, and surgical restoration.

Dental professionals treat people, not just teeth, gums and mouths. Good oral health is an essential component of the total health of a person. Dental professionals interact with people of all ages and personalities from a wide range of cultures. Their skills in working with people, as well as their dentistry and teaching skills, can have a lifelong positive impact on the total health of the people who use their services.

Many other career paths, other than traditional private dental practice, are open to trained dental professionals. These include careers in community health departments and other public health agencies, hospitals, military, dental education, dental research, and in industry, such as dental product development and sales.  Dentistry is a challenging and rewarding career.

There are training opportunities in North Carolina for all specialties in the oral health profession. North Carolina colleges and universities throughout the state (see below) provide training for dentists, dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dental laboratory technicians.

The North Carolina Area Health Education (AHEC) Program external linkprovides guidance for planning a career in health services.
Another excellent resource for specific dental health careers in North Carolina is NC Health Careers@CFNC.org external link sponsored by the College Foundation of North Carolina external link. Additional information on North Carolina health careers can be found at the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program.external link

Educational Programs for Dental Careers in N.C.
College Location Phone Programs
Alamance Community College
PO Box 8000
Graham, N.C. 27253-8000 
(336)
578-2002
Dental Assisting
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
340 Victoria Road
Asheville, N.C. 28801-4816
(828)
254-1921
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Cape Fear Community College
411 N. Front Street
Wilmington, N.C. 28401-3910
(910)
362-7000
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Catawba Valley Community College
2550 US Highway 70 SE
Hickory, NC • 28602-8302
(828)
327.7000
Dental Hygiene
Central Carolina Community College
900 S. Vance Street #220
Sanford, NC 27330
(919)
775-2122
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Central Piedmont Community College
PO Box 35009
Charlotte, N.C. 28235-5009
(704)
330-2722
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Coastal Carolina Community College
444 Western Blvd.
Jacksonville, N.C. 28546-6816
(910)
455-1221
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Durham Technical Community College
1637 Lawson Street
Durham, N.C. 27703-5023
(919)
563-7200
Dental Laboratory Technology
East Carolina University
2516 Health Sciences Building
Greenville, N.C. 27834
(252) 737-7000 Dentistry
(First dental class will begin Fall 2011)
Fayetteville Technical Community College
PO Box 35236
Fayetteville, N.C. 28303-0236
(910)
678-8400
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Forsyth Technical Community College
2100 Silas Creek Parkway
Winston-Salem, N.C. 27103-5197
(336)
723-0371
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Guilford Technical Community College
PO Box 309
Jamestown, N.C. 27282-0309
(336)
334-4822
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Halifax Community College
P.O. Drawer 809
100 College Drive
Weldon, N.C. 27890-1121
(252)
536-4221
Dental Hygiene
Martin Community College
1161 Kehukee Park Road
Williamston, N.C. 27892-4425
(252)
792-1521
Dental Assisting
Miller-Motte College
3901 Capital Boulevard
Raleigh, NC 27604

1021 WH Smith Blvd. Ste. 102
Greenville, NC 27834

5000 Market Street
Wilmington, NC 28405

(919)
723-2820

(252)
215-2000

(910)
392-4660
Dental Assisting
Montgomery Community College
1011 Page Street
Troy, N.C. 27371-8387
(910)
576-6222
Dental Assisting
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
PO Box 1595
Salisbury, N.C. 28145-1594
(704)
216-3726
Dental Assisting
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Campus Box 7450
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-7450
(919)
966-1161
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene, Dental Hygiene, EducationDentistry
Wake Technical Community College
101 Fayetteville Road
Raleigh, N.C. 27603-5655
(919)
866-5000
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Wayne Community College
3000 Wayne Memorial Drive
Goldsboro, N.C. 27534-8212
(919)
735-5151
Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Western Piedmont Community College
1001 Burkemont Avenue
Morganton, N.C. 28655-4504
(828)
438-6000
Dental Assisting
Wilkes Community College
PO Box 120
Wilkesboro, N.C. 28697-0120
(336)
838-6100
Dental Assisting