4 Certifications for Dental Assistants

toddler girl brushing her teethContributed to jobs.net by Kim Evans

Historically, most people are not thrilled to visit their dentist's office. Technological advances over the last 5-10 years, however, have helped introduce less-intrusive dental procedures, which has increased demand for dental services. This is good news if you're a dental assistant because you should see job growth rise by more than 29% by 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And yet, in order to compete in this field, you'll need to be among the most qualified candidates vying for dental assistant or orthodontic assistant jobs.

To become more qualified, simply add more letters to the end of your name. Does that sound too good to be true? Well, more specifically, dental practices are looking for 1-4 acronyms following your name–acronyms earned through dental certifications.

Certified dental assistants possess a great deal of knowledge about their field and are able to keep up with the latest technology used in dental clinics. More credentials lead to higher employability, and once hired, more credentials open doors to more responsibility and higher pay.

You can explore exams and certifications through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), but below we've listed four certifications so you can get a sense for what's involved. As you'll soon find out, earning each certification will take time and considerable preparation, but they are certainly attainable in a relatively short period of time compared to other credentials earned in the medical field.

Your Name, CDA (Certified Dental Assistant)

Total Questions: 320 Total Testing Time: 4 hours

Exam Name

Questions

Testing Time

GC Exam – General Chairside

120

90 minutes

RHS Exam – Radiation Health and Safety

100

75 minutes

ICE Exam – Infection Control

100

75 minutes

Your Name, COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant)

Total Questions: 310 Total Testing Time: 4 hours

Exam Name

Questions

Testing Time

OA Exam – Orthodontic Assisting

210

165 minutes

ICE Exam – Infection Control

100

75 minutes

Your Name, CPFDA (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant)

Total Questions: 250 Total Testing Time: 3.5 hours

Exam Name

Questions

Testing Time

CP Exam – Coronal Polish

100

75 minutes

SE Exam – Sealants

50

45 minutes

TA Exam – Topical Anesthetic

50

45 minutes

TF Exam – Topical Fluoride

50

45 minutes

Your Name, CRFDA (Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant)

Total Questions: 480 Total Testing Time: 6 hours 10 minutes

Exam Name

Questions

Testing Time

AMP Exam – Anatomy Morphology and Physiology

105

80 minutes

IM Exam – Impressions

80

60 minutes

TMP Exam – Temporaries

80

60 minutes

IS Exam – Isolation

60

45 minutes

SE Exam – Sealants

50

46 minutes

RF Exam – Restorative Functions

105

80 minutes

To earn all four certifications, you will need to answer 1,210 questions over 15 hours and 40 minutes. You probably noticed that a couple of the component exams are required for more than one certification, so you won't need to take those exams more than once. According to DANB you can earn a single certification either by registering and paying separately for each corresponding component exam, or registering for all required certification component exams at once at a reduced fee.

With significant growth in the number of new dental assistant jobs expected by the end of this decade, you would greatly benefit by adding as many certifications to your list of credentials as you can muster. The certifications will help you get employed, stay employed, and perform your job as well as the best in your field. To learn more information about the certification programs, please visit the DANB website.

For you dental assistants still reading, which certifications have you yet to acquire and which single exam do you most look forward to taking? Please share your ambitions with the rest of us!



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