DANB's Preventive Dental Assistant Certification Offers New Opportunities for Assistants

March 23, 2011
This is an exciting time for dental assistants, and many states are expanding the duties that assistants are allowed to perform. The Dental Assisting National Board offers Certified Preventive Dental Assistant, Certified Dental Assistant, and Certified Orthodontic Assistant national certifications.

Kelly Ober, CDA, CPDA, of Bellingham, Mass., says she decided to take the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Preventive Dental Assistant (CPDA) Certification exam to advance her career. “It was a great opportunity to earn another dental assisting credential,” she notes.

Ms. Ober has been a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) for 20 years and says earning DANB’s CPDA Certification was another milestone. “I felt excited, thrilled and honored,” she says. “It is a great asset to my career as a dental assistant.”

Ms. Ober is one of nearly 200 candidates who earned CPDA Certification during the pretest phase, held July through December 2010. DANB’s CPDA Certification exam is made up of four component exams: Coronal Polish (CP), Sealants (SE), Topical Anesthetic (TA) and Topical Fluoride (TF). The CPDA exam will be available in April, and the application packet can be downloaded from www.danb.org.

Karen Johnson, CDA, CPDA, of Westminster, Mass., says she took DANB’s CPDA exam because after 35 years as a dental assistant, she was ready for a new challenge. “The knowledge that I gained during the study process was well worth the time invested,” she says.

Since earning CPDA Certification, Ms. Johnson says she is enjoying applying her dental assisting clinical knowledge in new areas. “My value in the office setting has increased tremendously,” she notes. “I would recommend this exciting exam to any interested dental assistant.”

There are no prerequisites to take the CP, SE, TA and TF component exams. However, to earn CPDA Certification, candidates must meet certain requirements, such as submitting dentist verification of competency in the four functions or completing coursework in a dental assisting program from a state that allows dental assistants to perform all four functions.

This is an exciting time for dental assistants, and many states are expanding the duties that assistants are allowed to perform. Currently, the dental practice acts in 35 states allow or do not prohibit dental assistants to perform all four of the CPDA functions. In total, 43 dental practice acts allow dental assistants to perform coronal polishing procedures, 38 allow dental assistants to apply sealants, 45 allow dental assistants to apply topical fluoride, and 49 allow dental assistants to apply topical anesthetic. Check your state’s dental practice act and/or administrative rules to determine if one or more of these functions is allowed to be performed by dental assistants in your state, and if so, whether there are any qualifications; or go to www.danb.org and click on State Specific Information.

Although each state sets its own requirements to perform preventive duties, DANB is proud to be able to offer an objective, reliable and valid exam to measure competency in coronal polish, sealants, topical anesthetic and topical fluoride.DANB has been testing and certifying dental assistants for more than 60 years.Recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) as the national certification board for dental assistants, DANB annually tests about 20,000 dental auxiliaries — with more than 33,000 DANB Certificants nationwide.

In addition to the CPDA Certification, DANB offers the CDA and Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) national certifications. Covering the important duties that dental assistants perform every day, DANB’s CDA exam includes exams on General Chairside (GC), Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), and Infection Control (ICE). DANB’s COA exam covers Orthodontic Assisting (OA) and ICE. Currently, DANB’s exams are recognized or required to perform dental assisting duties in 38 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs.