What Is a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)?
Are you interested in learning about what it takes to become a certified dental assistant? Maybe you'd like to know what is involved with the certification process or what you can expect to earn per year as a dental assistant. Read on to find out the answers to these questions. Schools offering Dental Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Certified Dental Assistants' Duties and Responsibilities
As a certified dental assistant (CDA), your main occupational responsibilities involve performing routine laboratory tasks in a dentist office. This may include cleaning and organizing dental equipment, preparing patients for their dental treatments, and aiding the dentist during procedures that require an extra set of hands. You may also be responsible for collecting patients' medical and dental records and updating them to include ongoing dental treatment information.
Working with X-ray imaging to diagnose specific oral pathologies may also fall under your typical tasks list. You will also teach patients how to maintain proper oral hygiene between dental visits and perform postoperative home care in the event of oral surgery.
You can become a CDA with only a high school diploma and an appropriate amount of on-the-job training. No formal postsecondary education is expressly required, though dental assistant certificate and associate's degree programs are available. The educational programs provide you with the essential knowledge of the dental sciences, anatomies, materials and procedures necessary to become a dental assistant. You will also learn about infection control techniques, radiologic principles and first aid practices.
The CDA credential is awarded by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB). In some states, you are required to earn this certification in order to work as a dental assistant. To qualify for the CDA examination, you must have either graduated from a dental assistant educational program or worked as a full-time dental assistant for at least two years. If working only part-time, you must have received at least four years of experience. You must also have a valid cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification in order to take the exam.
The DANB's CDA examination is actually made up of three separate exams that test you on your knowledge of radiation health and safety, infection control and general chairside assisting. The three tests total up to 320 multiple choice questions and last for a duration of four hours. The three tests can be taken at the same time or separately as long as they are all completed within a five-year time period. Once you've received your CDA designation, you must renew your certification every year which requires taking at least 12 credits of continuing dental education.
Employment and Salary Info
In May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 294,030 people employed as dental assistants (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that dental assistants earned an average of $34,140 per year in May 2010. A healthy occupational growth of 36% was predicted for dental assistants from 2008-2018.
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