What We Do
We are a regulatory college, responsible for regulating the profession of dental assisting in the public interest.
What does that mean? It means that we serve and protect the public interest by overseeing and directing the practice of dental assistants to ensure Albertans receive safe, competent and ethical oral health care.
The Alberta Government and the Health Professions Act (HPA) give us the authority and mandate to act as the regulator for dental assisting. The HPA requires that our activities fit within our mandate. Therefore, the things we do must focus on:
- ensuring that Albertans receive safe, high-quality oral health care from dental assistants
- ensuring that dental assistants adhere to the highest standards and ethical conduct
- protecting the public from unsafe practice
- holding dental assistants accountable for the care they provide
By setting and enforcing registration requirements, we ensure that anyone we authorize to practice as a dental assistant has met our standards for providing you with safe care.
The HPA sets out basic rules and processes about the registration of all health professionals. We set the more detailed requirements for someone to be registered as a dental assistant. We have several pathways to registration that are based on an applicant’s:
- entry-to-practice education
- practice rights in other parts of Canada
Our requirements also include current practice and good character.
After an applicant meets our registration requirements, we put them on one of our registers (general, provisional and courtesy). We authorize them to provide services to patients based on their education, training, and examination.
Maintain a Registry and Issue Practice Permits
Both our public registry and the Practice Permits we issue help patients, employers and others verify that a dental assistant is allowed to practice. It also shows which services they may provide. This way you can know that your dental assistant is authorized to provide the care you are receiving.
You can visit our public registry anytime to search for a dental assistant. It will give you real-time information about them including:
- which register they are on
- if they have a Practice Permit
- if there are conditions on their practice
- if they are authorized for advanced practices
When a dental assistant first becomes registered, and when they meet the requirements for annual renewal, we issue a Practice Permit to them. Their Practice Permit shows if they have any conditions on their practice or if they are authorized for advanced practices. Dental assistants can get their updated Practice Permit online, anytime. The HPA requires that dental assistants display their Practice Permits where they work or provide them when asked.
Set Expectations and Provide Guidance
Through creating, maintaining, and enforcing rules and requirements, we develop and maintain your confidence in the delivery of oral health care.
To effectively regulate, we need to set expectations and ensure that dental assistants know what’s expected of them. Our regulation, policies, Bylaws, Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics, Continuing Competence Program, and guidelines help define our expectations.
Our team of Regulatory Compliance Advisors will help everyone, including patients, dental assistants, and employers, understand our expectations. They will also help interpret how other rules and laws apply to dental assisting practice. Please reach out to us when you have questions.
Approve Dental Assisting Programs
We approve and monitor dental assisting programs in Alberta. Our goal is to ensure they offer education that produces graduates who are ready to provide you with safe care.
By applying our Education Principles and Program Approval Policies, we evaluate programs. We approve those that meet or exceed entry-to-practice standards. As we do with the dental assistants we register, we continue to monitor and offer guidance to the programs we approve.
Respond to Complaints About Dental Assistants
If you have a concern about a dental assistant’s conduct or the service they provide, we want to hear from you.
We follow the HPA Part 4: Professional Conduct to guide how we respond to complaints. It’s important to us to resolve your concerns. At the same time, we want to ensure that dental assistants are accountable for their practice and conduct.
What We Don’t Do
While we are a college, we aren’t a post-secondary school. We don’t offer a program of study for those who want to become dental assistants.
Additionally, the HPA requires that we not participate in association- or union-type activities. Therefore, we don’t offer membership services (like discounts, benefits, advocacy) and we don’t represent dental assistants in their employment.
This graphic compares our role and an association role.