DANB answers your frequently asked questions

Nov. 17, 2011
Working as a dental assistant can be challenging — especially since each state has its own dental assisting requirements. To help clarify, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) answers some of your most frequently asked questions.

Working as a dental assistant can be challenging — especially since each state has its own dental assisting requirements. Many dental assistants have questions about the ins and outs of dental assisting duties and requirements. To help clarify, the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) answers some of your most frequently asked questions.

I pay renewal fees and earn continuing education each year. Does that mean I am certified?
It depends. To find out if you hold DANB certification, you can call DANB at 1-800-367-3262. You can also check and see if you have a DANB certificate or certification wallet card. If you are DANB certified, both of these items will state the DANB certification you hold and the date your DANB certification expires. If your DANB certification date has passed and you have not renewed, you are no longer DANB certified.

DANB certification is not the only reason a dental assistant might pay renewal fees and earn continuing education. Some states call their dental assistant recognition “certification.” Most call it “registration.” Some states call it “licensure.” State licensure or registration may require these things as well. Licensure, which is regulated by the state, often requires proof of education and testing to practice. Registration, which is also regulated by the state, may require meeting education, exam or fee requirements. To find out if you are licensed or registered through the state, check with your state dental board. Many state dental boards have an online system where you can look up your licensure or registration status. You can find a link to your state’s dental board website by going to the State-Specific Information section of DANB’s website at www.danb.org.

A dental assistant in my office is saying she is a CDA, but I don’t think she is. What should I do?
Using a DANB certification mark — CDA, COA, CPFDA, CDPMA or COMSA* — without DANB’s authorization is a serious infraction. If you know or work with someone who is claiming to be DANB certified but is not, it is important that you let DANB know. Anyone who falsely claims to be DANB certified or who falsely claims to have earned any DANB credentials or certificates may be subject to disciplinary or legal action. For questions about the proper use of DANB trademarks or to report unauthorized use, contact DANB at 1-800-367-3262, ext. 431, or go to www.danb.org and click on Complaints Regarding Disciplinary Issues.

DANB’s new website plans include the ability for anyone to verify an individual’s DANB certifications and certificates of competency, including Radiation Health and Safety, Infection Control, Coronal Polish, Sealants, Topical Anesthetic and Topical Fluoride. This online service will help maintain the value of DANB certifications and certificates of competency, and will be useful to employers and state regulatory boards.

As a dental assistant, what duties can I perform?
With different dental assisting regulations in each state, there is not one easy answer. To find out the duties that dental assistants are allowed to perform in your state — and the requirements you must meet — check with your state’s dental board. You can also visit the state-specific section of DANB’s website for charts and summaries of dental assisting requirements and state dental board contact information. Visit www.danb.org/main/statespecificinfo.asp to learn more.

Where can I take a DANB exam?
DANB exams are offered year-round at secure test centers across the country. The first step to taking a DANB exam is downloading the application packet at www.danb.org. After you read over the information, send in your exam application, fees and any required documentation. Once DANB processes your application, you will receive a notice with instructions on how to set up your exam appointment at a Pearson VUE test center. The application packet has a list of all the test centers. Or, you can look up a test center location at www.vue.com/danb. If you have any questions about the exam application or required documentation, call 1-800-367-3262 or email [email protected].

How can I review for a DANB exam?
There are many ways you can review for a DANB exam. DANB offers a list of exam resources in the back of each exam application packet. You can also download this list at http://www.danb.org/exams/examreferences.asp. From this Web page, you can also download DANB’s exam blueprints, which are outlines of the topics covered on DANB exams. This information can help you target the areas that are most important for you to review.

If you’re looking for additional materials, you might want to check with the DALE Foundation at www.dalefoundation.org. The DALE Foundation, the official DANB affiliate, offers interactive online review courses and study aids. You can select from courses such as the DANB RHS Review, the DANB ICE Review, the DANB RHS Practice Test and the Glossary of Dental Terms. Visit www.dalefoundation.org to see a complete list of available products. Remember, everyone has different study needs, so you should select the review materials and study plan that works best for you.

*DANB’s CDA, COA, CDPMA and COMSA certification marks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). DANB has applied to the USPTO to register CPFDATM (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant) as a certification mark. While DANB waits to earn this USPTO registration, CPFDA is a DANB trademark.