Careers in Dental Health

The Facts

The field of dentistry offers many opportunities for rewarding careers in North Carolina (PDF, 416KB). Professional oral health care requires a team effort to ensure success. The core of the oral health care team is comprised of dentists, hygienists, assistants, and 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 12 professional dental specialties.
  • 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. 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 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 provides guidance for planning a career in health services.

Another excellent resource for specific dental health careers in North Carolina is NC Health sponsored by the College Foundation of North Carolina. Additional information on North Carolina health careers can be found at the North Carolina Health Careers Access Program.

Educational Programs for Dental Careers in N.C.

College Location Phone Programs
Alamance Community College   
P.O. 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 St.   
Wilmington, N.C. 28401-3910
910-362-7000 Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Catawba Valley Community College   
2550 U.S. 70 S.E.   
Hickory, N.C. 28602-8302
828-327-7000 Dental Hygiene
Central Carolina Community College   
900 S. Vance St. #220   
Sanford, NC 27330
919-775-2122 Dental Assisting, Dental Hygiene
Central Piedmont Community College   
P.O. 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 St.   
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
Fayetteville Technical Community College   
P.O. 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   
P.O. 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 Blvd.   
Raleigh, NC 27604   

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

5000 Market St.   
Wilmington, NC 28405



Dental Assisting
Montgomery Community College   
1011 Page St.   
Troy, N.C. 27371-8387
910-576-6222 Dental Assisting
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College   
P.O. 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, Education, Dentistry
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 Ave.   
Morganton, N.C. 28655-4504
828-438-6000 Dental Assisting
Wilkes Community College   
P.O. Box 120   
Wilkesboro, N.C. 28697-0120
336-838-6100 Dental Assisting