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National Certification for Dental Assistants

Congratulations on pursuing dental assistant training. You're preparing for a career that promises exceptional job opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for dental assistants will rise by an outstanding 29 percent during the 2006-2016 decade. Whether you're enrolled in a one-year certificate/diploma program or a comprehensive two-year associate degree path, your formal training can make you a preferred candidate to dentists, the BLS says.

Following graduation, many dental assistants seek formal certifications from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). Pay rates for certified assistants are consistently higher than for those without formal certifications, according to DANB studies. The organization offers professional certification testing for designations as a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and/or Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA).

Pursuing CDA Examinations
The CDA exam is available for anyone who has graduated or plans to graduate from an ADA-accredited assisting or hygiene program and who has completed CPR certification��or for a high school graduate who has completed 3,500 hours work experience as a professional dental assistant.

The CDA certification exam is administered by computer or offered as a written test, and focuses on chair-side assisting. Applicants must pass all three sections of the exam within a five-year period. More than 100,000 certifications have been awarded by DANB, with an estimated 30,000 assistants maintaining their credentials. Components include chair-side practice review along with sections on radiation health and safety and infection control. Here are the specifics:

General Chair-side Exam
This segment contains 120 multiple-choice questions on collection of clinical data, lab materials and dental procedures, patient education, and office procedure.

Radiation Health and Safety
Answer 100 multiple-choice questions on intraoral/extraoral exposure and evaluation, mounting and labeling, and radiation safety for patients and operators.

Infection Control
Complete 100 multiple-choice questions on prevention of contamination and transmission, maintaining aseptic conditions, sterilization procedures, occupational safety, and environmental asepsis.

Dental Assisting National Board

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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