How to Become a Dental Assistant in Ohio

The Ohio State Dental Board regulates the practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, and dental assistant radiography. The Board recognizes three levels of dental assisting:

  • Basic Qualified Personnel (BQP): Must be trained via a licensed dentist; training must include a planned sequence of instruction in an educational institutional or through in-office training
  • OCDAC Certified Ohio Dental Assistant/DANB Certified Dental Assistant: Must possess the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) or OCDAC Certified Ohio Dental Assistant certification

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Education, Training, and Experience Requirements for Dental Assistants in Ohio

Each level of dental assisting in Ohio requires specific eligibility requirements to be met:

Basic Qualified Personnel (BQP)

In addition to completing instruction through an educational institution or licensed dentists, only those BQPs who meet the following requirements are permitted to monitor nitrous oxide minimal sedation:

  • Must be at least 18 years old; AND
  • Must have completed a basic life-supporting training course; AND
  • Must have completed a 6-hour course in nitrous oxide monitoring and passed an examination through an Ohio State Board-approved permanent sponsor or must have graduated from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program after January 2010; AND
  • Must possess at least two years of active practice and at least 3,000 hours experience in dental assisting

DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) or OCDAC Certified Ohio Dental Assistant

The Ohio State Dental Board recognizes two dental assisting certifications:

  • DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)
  • OCDAD Certified Ohio Dental Assistant

Holders of either certification are qualified to perform placement of pit and fissure sealants. They may also achieve a certificate from the Ohio State Dental Board and therefore qualify to perform coronal polishing by meeting the following additional requirements:

  • Complete a training program in coronal polishing approved by the Board; AND
  • Pass a standardized test following the completion of a skills assessment component or pass the DANB Coronal Polish (CP) exam; AND

Upon meeting the above requirements, candidates must apply to the Ohio State Dental Board for certification by completing the Application for a Certificate to Perform Coronal Polishing in the State of Ohio.

DANB certified dental assistants or OCDAC certified dental assistants may qualify to perform pit and fissure sealants if they complete at course in pit and fissure sealants, which must include at least 6 hours of clinical instruction and 2 hours of didactic instruction.

Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA)

To qualify as an EFDA and therefore perform expanded functions in Ohio under the supervision of a licensed dentist, candidates must graduate from an EFDA training course that has been accredited by either CODA or the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools’ Higher Learning Commission.

There are currently five CODA-accredited dental assisting programs in Ohio.

Individuals who complete a course that has been accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools’ Higher Learning Commission but not CODA may also need to take and pass DANB’s CDA examination.

A dental assisting program, which may be offered through a dental school, vocational/technical school, or dental school, is about 9 to 11 months in duration. Coursework covers both the administrative and clinical aspects of dental assisting, and all programs culminate in a clinical externship, thus preparing graduates to serve as competent, entry-level dental assistants.

All candidates must pass an EFDA examination that is administered by the Commission on Dental Testing in Ohio and apply to the Ohio State Dental Board for registration as an EFDA by completing an Application for Registration as an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA).

DANB Certification Options for Dental Assistants in Ohio

The Ohio State Dental Board recognizes national certification through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) for a number of dental assisting requirements. Specifically, the DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential may satisfy eligibility requirements for both the OCDAC Certified Ohio Dental Assistant/DANB Certified Dental Assistant and the Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) title.

Further, OCDAC Certified Ohio Dental Assistants/DANB Certified Dental Assistants may satisfy eligibility requirements to perform coronal polishing if they pass DANB’s Coronal Polish (CP) exam.

Individuals who want to achieve CDA certification must take and pass three component examinations, which include:

  • General Chairside Assisting (GC)
  • Infection Control (ICE)
  • Radiation Health and Safety (RHS)

Other DANB credentials dental assistants in Ohio may pursue as to further their career include:

  • Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA)
  • Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)
  • Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA)

All DANB certificate holders must complete at least 30 continuing education credits every year to qualify for annual renewal of their credentials. More information on DANB certification options can be found here.

Dental Assistant Radiographer Certification in Ohio

The Ohio State Dental Board grants certificates to dental assistants in Ohio who have met of the following requirements:

  • Have successfully completed training in dental radiography from an Ohio State Dental Board-approved sponsor (view a list of approved sponsors here); OR
  • Hold a DANB or OCDAD certification

Dental assistants must complete an Application Form for a Certificate to Practice Dental Radiography in the State of Ohio, pay the $25 application fee (made payable to the Ohio State Dental Board), and mail both to:

Ohio State Dental Board
77 South High Street
17th floor
Columbus, OH 43215

Dental assistants in Ohio who hold radiography certification must renew their certification on January 1 of every ODD-numbered year upon completion of at least two hours of continuing education in radiation technology.

Dental Assisting Associations in Ohio

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, there were 9,800 dental assistants employed in Ohio, as of 2013. The metropolitan statistical areas with the largest number of dental assistants during the same time were: Cincinnati MSA (1,870) and Columbus (1,780).

Becoming an active member of the dental assisting community in Ohio and in the U.S. often involves joining a professional association, such as:

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