Stay up-to-date on dental assisting requirements

There are two questions that dental assistants often ask the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB). One of the most common questions DANB hears is, “How can I perform expanded functions?” The other popular question from dental assistants is, “What do I need to do to meet state requirements?”

Both of these questions can be tough to answer since each state has its own requirements for dental assistants. Because duties, job titles and requirements vary from state to state, it’s important for dental assistants to be informed about the duties that dental assistants are allowed to perform or prohibited from performing, and any education, exam, certification or other requirements in their state and any state in which they plan to work. Fortunately, DANB has in-depth resources — both in print and online — to help dental assistants and dental professionals navigate dental assisting career paths.

Recently, DANB published the 2013 editions of its two state publications, which feature the latest state-by-state dental assisting requirements. DANB’s State Career Ladder Templates for Dental Assistants and DANB’s State Fact Booklet are must-have resources for dental assistants, educators, state legislators, oral healthcare organizations and state dental boards.

DANB’s 2013 State Career Ladder Templates for Dental Assistants features easy-to-use charts with information on each state's rules and regulations for dental assistants. Each state chart highlights job designations for dental assistants; education, exam and training requirements; allowable functions; non-delegable functions; and levels of supervision required in each state.

DANB’s 2013 State Fact Booklet provides a synopsis of current state requirements and excerpts from state dental practice acts related specifically to the dental assistant, as well as dental board contact information, the number of DANB certificants in each state, comparative salary information, information on expanded functions and radiography requirements, general dental assistant-related information on anesthesia and sedation regulations, and a list of Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental assisting programs.

“DANB’s state publications are a great resource for dental professionals who are looking for the latest information on dental assisting regulations and requirements — all in one place,” said DANB Executive Director Cindy Durley, M.Ed., MBA. “DANB also publishes this information on its website, so the information can be accessed at the click of a button.”

Information from both publications can be found in the “Meet State Requirements” section of DANB’s website. While visitors to DANB's website can download much of this information at no cost, those who wish to obtain print copies can order them from DANB for a fee.  To place an order for the publications, download the order form or call 1-800-367-3262.

Next Steps

·  Check your state’s requirements. Visit the dental board’s website or check the Meet State Requirements” page of DANB’s website. From there, you can determine which duties dental assistants are allowed to perform, along with education, experience and exam requirements. You can also find links to each state’s dental board website; dental board websites often contain the applications you will need to complete to meet that state’s dental assistant requirements.

· Research dental assisting programs and board-approved courses. To perform expanded duties, many state dental boards require that dental assistants graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program and/or complete one or more state dental board-approved course. Check with your dental board to find out which courses are board-approved, and find the list of CODA-accredited programs on DANB’s website.

· Take DANB exams or earn DANB certification. Many states recognize or require DANB certification and exams to perform certain dental assisting duties. Passing DANB’s Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam or earning DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification could be the foundation for performing more dental assisting functions and pursuing career growth.

· Consider DANB’s CPFDA or CRFDA certifications. For dental assistants looking to demonstrate knowledge in preventive or restorative functions, DANB offers the Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA) and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA) certification programs. DANB's CPFDA certification program includes individual component exams covering these topics:  Coronal Polish, Sealants, Topical Fluoride, and Topical Anesthetic.  DANB's CRFDA certification program includes individual component exams covering these topics:  Anatomy, Morphology and Physiology, Isolation, Temporaries, Impressions, Sealants, and Restorative Functions.

Although each state sets its own requirements to perform expanded duties, there are some general trends across the nation, and many states are expanding the duties that assistants are allowed to perform. Earning DANB’s CPFDA or CRFDA certifications, or even taking one of the component exams, is a way to show patients, your employer and yourself that you have the verified knowledge in these important topics.

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