• Find A Program

How to Become a Dental Assistant in Massachusetts

Beginning in October 2014, under the new rules of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry, all dental assistants wishing to work in the state must become licensed. There are four tiers of dental assisting recognized in Massachusetts, each designated by the type of training required and the duties that tier is legally allowed to perform:

  • On-the-job trained (OJT) dental assistant – receives training in a dental office directly from a licensed, supervising dentist
  • Formally Trained Dental Assistant – receives formal training in a dental assisting program at a college or university for at least one year
  • DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) – receives DANB-approved training in dental assisting and goes on to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
  • Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA) – receives DANB-approved training, holds a CDA, and completes a formal training program in expanded functions

[featured_school_simple]

The duties that each tier is allowed to perform vary according to training. Many colleges and universities in Massachusetts offer Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental assisting training programs.

Requirements to Become a Dental Assistant in Massachusetts

Becoming an On-the-Job Trained Dental Assistant

An On-the-Job Trained Dental Assistant (otherwise known as OJT) receives training just as the title suggests: in a dental office by a licensed dentist.

This entry-level type of dental assisting recognition is a way to enter the profession in Massachusetts while going on to formal dental assisting training. Additionally, an OJT must complete a course on CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings.

An OJT in Massachusetts is licensed for six months, during which time a dental assisting program is to be completed. The license may be extended for another six months to allow for completion of the program.

Search Dental Assistant Programs

You know you’re ready to make the move to become an administrative or clinical dental assistant. All you need is the training to make it happen. Learn more about flexible training options and the cost of programs in your area.

Sponsored

Becoming a Formally Trained Dental Assistant

The next level of dental assisting in Massachusetts is Formally Trained Dental Assistant, or FTDA. This type of dental assistant must have received formal dental assisting training in the state of Massachusetts lasting at least one year. The program must be accredited by one of the following organizations:

Becoming a DANB Certified Dental Assistant

Becoming a DANB (Dental Assisting National Board) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) entails completing education, experiential and examination requirements. There are three ways to achieve a CDA in Massachusetts:

Choice 1:

AND

Choice 2:

  • Hold a high school diploma or GED,

AND

  • Complete at least 3500 hours of approved work experience,

AND

Choice 3:

  • Complete3d a CDA from the DANB in the past, or completed a CODA-accredited DDS or DMA program, or received a dental degree from a foreign university,

AND

Competing any of the above choices will qualify a prospective dental assistant to take the CDA examination. There are three parts to the CDA exam, which must all be passed:

  • General Chairside Assisting (GC)- 90 minutes to complete 120 multiple-choice questions
  • Infection Control (ICE)- 75 minutes to complete 100 multiple-choice questions
  • Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) – 75 minutes to complete 100 multiple-choice questions

Pearson Vue testing centers in Massachusetts offer this exam at the following locations:

  • Wellesley
  • Waltham
  • Boston
  • Worcester
  • Springfield

Although candidates will learn if they passed or failed the exam as soon as it is completed, it will take the DANB about four weeks to mail the official results to the candidate’s address. Passing the CDA exam qualifies the dental assistant to become licensed in Massachusetts as a DANB Certified Dental Assistant.

Becoming an Expanded Function Dental Assistant

The fourth level of dental assisting in Massachusetts is Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). Achieving this title requires fulfilling these three requirements:

  • Graduating from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program
  • Holding DANB CDA certification
  • Completing a formal CODA-accredited training program in expanded functions

Radiography Requirements for Massachusetts Dental Assistants

Only specially trained dental assistants at any level may perform radiography in Massachusetts. The requirements vary depending upon the tier of dental assisting, as noted below:

  • OJT Dental Assistant: must complete all of these requirements:
    • A course in radiological safeguards and techniques
    • Pass the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam within a year of completing the course
    • Completing these requirements will qualify the OJT dental assistant to take dental x-rays under a licensed dentist’s direct supervision
  • FTDA:
    • Complete a course with a CODA-approved/compliant curriculum in radiological safeguards and techniques
    • Completing these requirements will qualify the OJT dental assistant to take dental x-rays under a licensed dentist’s direct supervision
  • DANB Certified Dental Assistant:
    • Holding the CDA certification in Massachusetts automatically qualifies a CDA to take dental x-rays under the general supervision of a licensed dentist (because radiography safety and techniques is a part of the CDA exam)
    • Additionally, if not already completed, CDAs in Massachusetts must complete a course with a CODA-approved/compliant curriculum in radiological safeguards and techniques
  • EFDA:
    • Holding the CDA certification in Massachusetts automatically qualifies a CDA to take dental x-rays under the general supervision of a licensed dentist (because radiography safety and techniques is a part of the CDA exam)
    • Additionally, if not already completed, CDAs in Massachusetts must complete a course with a CODA-approved/compliant curriculum in radiological safeguards and techniques

Obtaining a Dental Assistant License in Massachusetts

As of October 2014, all dental assistants in Massachusetts, regardless of their level, must obtain a license in order to legally work within the state. This simply involves completing the proper educational, experiential and examination requirements as described above and applying online for a license with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If a candidate prefers, the hard copy Initial Dental Assistant Licensure Application may be completed instead.

Along with the completed application, applicants must send:

  • Licensing fee
  • Documentation of completion of CPR or BLS
  • Written and signed attestation of the applicant’s physical fitness to practice dental assisting (from a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant)
  • Signed attestation that the applicant has read The Policy on Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct by the American Dental Assistants Association
  • Certified letters of good standing from any jurisdiction in which the applicant has held a dental assistant, dental hygienist or dentist’s license
  • Recent passport-sized photograph of the applicant
  • Statement of any criminal, civil or disciplinary action against the applicant and supporting documentation (if necessary)
  • Signed attestation of the applicant’s compliance with tax laws
  • Various documentation for each level of dental assisting, as noted below:

    • OJT:
      • Name and Massachusetts license number of the supervising dentist for the on-the-job training the applicant received
      • Documentation of completing of a course on CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings
      • Proof of completion of a radiological techniques course and examination, if applicable
      • If training was in a language other than English, documentation of passing a test of English language proficiency
    • FTDA:
      • Proof of DANB certification or transcript showing the dental assisting program completed
      • If training was in a language other than English, documentation of passing a test of English language proficiency

Everything must be mailed to Commonwealth of Massachusetts Division of Health Professions Licensure Board of Registration in Dentistry, 239 Causeway St, 5th Floor, Suite 500, Boston, MA 02114

Maintaining Dental Assistant Certification in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has yet to require continuing dental education (CDE) for dental assistants in order to maintain their license to practice. However, other credentials that a dental assistant may hold must be maintained, including:

  • CPR/BLS certification
  • Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)- Valid for one year. Every year, a CDA must complete at least f 12 CDE credits, relating directly to the practice of dental assisting. See the types of CDE allowed in the DANB Recertification Requirements.

Back to Top