What does a Certified Dental Assistant do?

Learn all about Certified Dental Assistant duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Certified Dental Assistant.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A certified dental assistant is a person who has completed an accredited dental assistant program and has passed a written and practical exam. A dental assistant's duties include but are not limited to: taking x-rays, charting teeth, preparing patients for dental procedures, sterilizing instruments, and providing patient education.

Certified Dental Assistant job duties include:

  • Cleaning teeth
  • Polishing teeth
  • Filling cavities
  • Taking x-rays
  • Making impressions of teeth
  • Applying sealants and fluoride treatments
  • Educating patients on oral hygiene
  • Assisting the dentist during procedures
  • Sterilizing dental instruments

Certified Dental Assistant Job Requirements

A certified dental assistant must have completed an accredited dental assisting program and passed a written and practical exam. Many states also require certification by the Dental Assisting National Board. Some employers may require one or two years of experience.

Certified Dental Assistant Skills

  • X-ray
  • Panoramic X-ray
  • Dental X-ray
  • Dental Assistant
  • Radiography
  • Dental Assisting
  • Dental Radiography
  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
  • American Dental Association (ADA)
  • National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE)
  • Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)

Related: Top Certified Dental Assistant Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Certified Dental Assistant

There are many ways to become a certified dental assistant. One way is to attend a dental assisting program at a community college or vocational school. Many of these programs take between one and two years to complete, and they often include both classroom and clinical instruction.

Another way to become a certified dental assistant is to complete an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs can last up to four years, and they combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

Once you have completed a dental assisting program or an apprenticeship, you will need to pass a certification exam in order to become a certified dental assistant. The most common certification exams for dental assistants are the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) exams. To qualify to take the DANB exams, you must have completed an accredited dental assisting program or apprenticeship.

Once you have passed the DANB exams, you will be a certified dental assistant (CDA). CDAs are required to renew their certification every few years by completing continuing education courses and passing a recertification exam.

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