Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) is a certification exam developed and administered by Dental Assisting National Board Inc. (DANB). The objective of this examination is credentialing of knowledge and skills of oral healthcare professionals. The DANB certified candidates are believed to have demonstrated competency in their specialty.
The test consists of three sub-tests: Radiation health and safety (RHS), Infection control (ICE) and General Chairside assisting (GC). The candidates require passing all the three component exams within five years period for achieving the certification. There is no eligibility criterion for RHS and ICE sub-tests. However, the eligibility conditions apply for taking the GC test. The applicant must meet one of the following requirements-
- The applicant is a graduate or anticipated graduate from CODA accredited dental program.
- The applicant is a high school graduate or holds an equivalent qualification.
- The applicant is a graduate from CODA accredited D.D.S or D.M.D program.
- The applicant has graduated from a dental course outside United States or Canada.
- The applicant is currently or formerly DANB certified.
The content covered in the three component exams is:
General Chairside Assisting: – Collection and recording of clinical data (10%), Chairside dental procedures (45%), Chairside dental materials (11%), Lab materials and procedures (4%), Patient education and oral health management (10%), Prevention and management of emergencies (14%), and Office management procedures (6%).
Radiation Health and Safety: – Expose and evaluate (37%), Process (16%), Mount/label (11%), Radiation safety – patient (24%), and Radiation safety-operator (12%).
Infection Control: – Patient and dental healthcare worker education (10%), Cross-contamination and disease transmission prevention (20%), Aseptic conditions maintenance (10%), Sterilization procedures (15%), Environmental asepsis (15%), and Occupational safety (30%).
The exam is in objective format. There are 120 multiple choice questions in GC sub-test, while there are 100 multiple choice questions in RHS and ICE tests each. The time allotted for completing GC test is 90 minutes and for RHS and ICE, 75 minutes each. This totals to 320 items in the entire exam and 4 hours time for test administration.
The marking scheme of the exam is based on the content of questions instead of number of questions attempted correctly. The result is a scaled score lying between 100 and 900. The passing scaled score is 400. The performance in the individual tests is graded as Lower than average, Average or Higher than average. The unofficial score and information of “Pass” or “Fail” in the exam is conveyed to the examinees immediately after the test. The official score report is received by the examinees in four weeks through U.S mail.
All the component exams must be passed to achieve certification. The certification can be maintained by receiving continued dental education and maintaining current CPR status. A renewal fee is applied each time for maintaining the credential.
CDA is available in computer based testing. The CBT is offered at more than 200 test sites of Pearson-Vue from Monday through Friday throughout the year. The candidate has to submit an application along with relevant documents and fees to DANB. In response, he/she gets a Test Admission Notification. The candidate has to schedule the exam in a 60 days testing window after receiving Test Admission Notification. The component exams can be taken separately or in a single test administration. There is also an option of group testing available.
The regular fees structure is as follow:
CDA (all three component tests in single administration): – $375
GC test: – $200
RHS test: – $175
ICE test: – $175
RHS & ICE tests: – $250
The fees structure for military individuals is as follow:
CDA (all three component tests in single administration): – $350
GC test: – $195
RHS test: – $170
ICE test: – $170
RHS & ICE tests: – $240
The fees structure for Maryland candidates is as follow:
CDA (all three component tests in single administration): – $395
GC test: – $200
RHS test: – $195
ICE test: – $175
RHS & ICE tests: – $270
Note- These fees include $50 non refundable application processing fee.
The other applicable fees are:
Exam rescheduling fees: – $85 ($50 non refundable application processing fee and $35 cancellation fee)
Hand scoring: – $25
Issue of duplicate certificate: – $25
Certificate Renewal: – $60