Dental Assistant Credentials for Dental Assisting Exam (page 3)
Most dental assistants seek certification to demonstrate their professionalism. The national certifying board is the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which oversees examinations for regular dental assistants, as well as specialized assistants. The CDA Exam has three components: general chairside (GC), radiation health and safety (RHS), and infection control (ICE). There are three pathways to eligibility for the CDA Exam. Many states offer a license of Registered Dental Assistant (RDA). Both certifications are widely recognized and accepted.
Dental Assisting National Board (DANB)
The DANB administers the following national certification examinations:
- Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
- Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)
- Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator (CDPMA)
The DANB is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. This agency oversees the national certificants who hold the above certifications, as well as administers the exam to new applicants. Every state in the union recognizes the CDA credential.
The DANB Review is the DANB’s official study guide. Candidates for the CDA Exam need to submit a written application to the DANB along with an application fee. Applications are available to download on the DANB Web site: www.danb.org
The CDA Exam has three components:
- General Chairside (GC)
- Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)
- Infection Control (ICE)
To receive CDA certification, a candidate must pass all three parts of the exam within a five-year period, although many candidates choose to do all three parts in a single sitting.
There are three pathways to eligibility for the CDA Exam.
- Pathway I Graduation from an ADA-accredited dental assisting school and DANB-approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
- Pathway II High-school graduation or GED and Two years (minimum 3,500 hours over 24 months) practical experience as a dental assistant, or at least 3,500 hours combination full- and part-time work experience over a 24-month period, and a maximum 48 months as a dental assistant and DANB-approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
- Pathway III CDA certification or graduation from a DDS or DMD program, or a foreign-degree program and DANB-approved cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification
Additionally, the DANB offers two other certifications (mentioned previously). These are the Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) and the Certified Dental Practice Management Assistant (CDPMA) credentials. Both are excellent certifications to have if these are the areas in which you are specializing. However, this book is recommended for applicants interested in the Certified Dental Assistant Examination.
Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)
Each state decides individually if it will offer the license of Registered Dental Assistant (RDA). If you have a question regarding whether or not your home state offers an RDA examination, please consult your state’s Dental Practice Act. It will outline the duties a dental assistant can perform and the licenses available in that state.
For example, the state of California offers an RDA examination and license, while Florida does not. The RDA in California is administered by the Committee on Dental Auxiliaries (COMDA) and the State Board of Dental Examiners. One must apply if interested in taking the RDA examination. The examination consists of two portions: a written portion and a practical portion. The written portion is given in a computer–testing center in various locations throughout the state. The practical exam is given at most dental schools. Information and details will follow from your state regarding these locations.
The duties of a dental assistant vary greatly from state to state, so this book cannot cover what is tested in each portion of the RDA examinations for each and every state. It is best to look for a review course in your general location that will tell you exactly what will be tested on your particular RDA examination.
Why Be Certified?
As a certified dental assistant—either the certified dental assistant (CDA) or the registered dental assistant (RDA)—you will become a more desirable candidate in job interviews. With a certification, you will be offered better pay, and be able to perform additional duties at the chair. Having this certification tells the dentist that you have a certain level of knowledge of dentistry, which you proved by passing the rigorous examination process. Patients also appreciate your knowledge, and often ask the dental assistant for clarification.
The CDA certification is the nationally recognized credential, and even in states that offer an RDA license, the CDA is often the pathway to obtaining an RDA. It is always a good idea to have the fullest credentials possible. In states that do not offer an RDA license, the CDA is the only option for licensure. You will be allowed to perform additional duties holding this license as well. If you ever need to move from one state to another, the CDA license is honored and recognized in every state in the union. Dental educators everywhere recommend that you apply for, take, and successfully pass both exams.
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