How to Become a Certified Dental Assistant
A certified dental assistant carries the distinction of having been certified by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). The DANB is the American Dental Association’s only recognized board. To be eligible to take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam, an individual must have graduated from an American Dental Assistant (ADA) accredited program, and completed 3,500 hours of work experience (full-time or part-time. An additional requirement to take the CDA exam is a General Educational Development (GED) certificate or high school diploma.*
Licensure and Certification
With respect to licensure and certification, most dental assistant duties are regulated. Some states may require licensure and certifications for dental assistants to perform specific or expanded functions such as radiological procedures within a dental office. Having graduated from an accredited dental assistant training program and passing an appropriate written exam are prerequisites for many states for obtaining licensure and certification. Once certified by the Dental Assisting National Board, continuing education is a requirement to maintain certification.
Continuing education for the dental assisting discipline is not a requirement in all states. However, continuing an advanced education can go a long way in laying the groundwork for personal advancement within the field.
Advanced Duties for Certified Dental Assistant Hopefuls
For dental assistants who wish to perform radiological procedures, as distinct from other functions, a study course in radiation must be successfully complete. It’s recommended that applicants call their state dental assisting board to find out if there are formal requirements for those wishing to perform radiological procedures.
Career Advancement for a Certified Dental Assistant
Education is important for advancement within any field; otherwise, upward or lateral mobility may be limited for individuals looking to advance. A certified dental assistant can choose to become an office manager, sales representative or insurance claims processor. A certified dental assistant can also make the decision to return to school to train for dental hygienist positions.
Glossary of Terms
The American Dental Association (ADA) is a professional organization with more than 155,000 members. It is the world’s largest dental association that promotes and supports oral health.
The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is a premier certification and credentialing agency for individuals looking to take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam.
A certified dental assistant is a dental assistant who has passed the three components of the DANB examination, which include general chairside assisting, radiation health and safety, and infection control.
*Not all states require the dental assistant certification in the delegation of duties.
** Requirements for an individual hoping to become a certified dental assistant may differ by state. It is highly recommended that applicants contact their state dental assisting board directly for specific requirements and workplace allowances.