The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) is the organization that is recognized by the American Dental Association for certifying dental assistants. There are four main areas of certified dental assistants including a dental assistant (CDA), a preventive functions dental assistant (CPFDA), an orthodontic assistant (COA) and a restorative functions dental assistant (CRFDA). Each of these certifications mean the holder receives a higher salary than non-certified assistants.
The median salary per hour for a DANB certified dental assistant is $18.60 and for a non-DANB certified assistant it is $16.59. This breaks down into percentages according to practice location and employment status.
• 16 percent practice in small cities and earn $17.72
• 46 percent practice in large cities and earn $18.00
• 8 percent practice in rural areas and earn $18.18
• 29 percent practice in metropolitan areas and earn $18.00
The percentages according to employment status are:
• 73 percent full-time $18.60
• 21 percent part-time $18.00
• 6 percent temporary $16.00
A higher salary is just the beginning of the benefits for DANB certified assistants. They also receive a higher percentage of paid vacations, major medical insurance, pension plans or a 401(k), free dental care, paid sick leave and paid holidays. Other benefits include uniform allowance, bonuses, reimbursement for DANB certification renewal, life, dental and disability insurance, profit sharing and reimbursement for American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) dues. These benefits may depend on the full-time or part-time status of the assistant. Partly because of these benefits as well as the higher salary, DNAB certified assistants have high employer loyalty. This means they stay in their jobs for an average of eight years.
In some cases, CDAs can progress from chair side certification to receiving a BS degree. They may become consultants, directors, educators and administrators at the high school and college level. This is an example of how DANB certification can further a career.
Other benefits that are not connected to the salary, but have a great impact on the DANB certified employee are:
• Pride in their jobs
• Respected by patients
• Career mobility
• Recognized by the dental community
• Better appreciated in their jobs
Dental assistants who have DANB certification have a large advantage over non-certified assistants when they are looking for a job. Recruiters are often looking for DANB certified people, and there is an exclusive job board that certified assistants can use where they have a better chance of getting the job they want.
In 38 states, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Air Force and the District of Columbia, DANB certification and competency exams are either required or recognized.
Dental assistants with DANB certification have the knowledge and expertise to offer high quality dental care. This is why they are sought after by dental clinics because they contribute to the reputation of the clinic for an enhanced level of competency.
The main types of practice include:
• General dentistry
• Oral surgery
To get certification, dental assistants need to take DANB exams. Applications for taking the exams can be found on the DANB website. They offer national exams for the four certifications.
The Certified Dental Assistant has three component exams:
• General Chair side Assisting
• Radiation health and safety
• Infection control
The Certified Orthodontic Assistant exam has two components:
• Orthodontic Assisting
• Infection Control
The CPFDA exam has four components:
• Coronal polishing
• Topical anesthetic
• Topical fluoride
The CRFDA exam has six components:
• Morphology and physiology
• Restorative Functions
The exams are given on computers at Pearson VUE test centers nationwide. After applying, an applicant will receive a Test Admission Notice that will give instructions on how to schedule an exam and the location of the test center nearest to them. Candidates must pass all the component exams for the CDA or COA certification within a five-year period. They must pass all of the components of a CPDFS or CRFDA exam within a three-year period.
Dental assistants are supervised by dentist and are responsible for a wide range or tasks for the smooth running of the dental office. They must be proficient in patient care, laboratory functions and administrative duties. They must also have good interpersonal, clinical and clerical skills as well as technological capabilities. Dental assistants who are current with the latest best practices in the field are a big asset to a dentist’s practice. For this reason, the dentist may be convinced to fund ongoing education and DANB certification for their employees. There are also scholarships offered by the ADAA and DANB to help dental assistants further their careers. The scholarships are awarded to those who demonstrate a strong commitment to career growth and lifelong learning.
DANB certification gives better job security, a professional advantage, great earning power and higher job satisfaction. Becoming certified by the DANB is the most important step to take for dental assistants to further their careers and to become the top earners in their field.