• Print
  • E-mail a Friend

    You may enter up to five e-mail addresses, separated by a comma.

    Close and Submit Buttons

DANB Frequently Asked Questions

Following are answers to some of your most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB). For answers to your FAQs about our exams and certifications, please see DANB's Exam & Certification FAQs.

  • What is DANB?

    The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) is the nationally recognized certification board for dental assistants. Founded in 1948, DANB is the only national certification board for dental assistants recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). DANB also offers information services and resources related to dental assisting credentialing to support its mission.

  • What does DANB do?

    DANB primarily develops and administers tests for dental assistants. These include national exams (NELDA, CDA, COA, CPFDA, CRFDA), component exams (ICE, RHS, GC, OA, CP, SE, TA, TF, AMP, IM, TMP, IS, RF), and state-specific exams related to dental assisting expanded functions for a growing number of states. DANB exams are recognized or required by 37 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs. DANB also provides information services and resources for the entire dental community.

  • What is a CDA?

    CDA is the acronym for Certified Dental Assistant. There are over 37,000 certificants  nationwide who hold CDA certification. The official DANB definition of a CDA is: "A dental assistant, dental hygienist or dentist who:

    1. Meets the education and/or experience prerequisites established by DANB,
    2. Passes DANB’s CDA exam, which is composed of the RHS, ICE and GC component exams, 
    3. Is currently CPR certified, and
    4. Continues to maintain the credential by meeting DANB Recertification Requirements."
  • What is the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, and what is NCCA accreditation?

    DANB is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, which is a national membership organization for credentialing bodies. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) is the accrediting body of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. DANB's national exam programs (CDA, COA) are accredited by the NCCA, which means that DANB's exam programs meet the highest standards to ensure validity, reliability and objectivity in the testing process.

  • What is an online proctored exam?

    An online proctored exam is an exam you take in a secure location, such as your home or office, through your own desktop or laptop computer, while being monitored by an online proctor. 

    Learn more about online proctored exams.

  • How many DANB certificants are there?

    As of January 2022, there are almost 37,000 DANB certificants and more than 2,000 Emeritus certificants. Also as of January 2022, the following number of individuals hold DANB certification:

    NELDA certificants
    CDA certificants
    COA certificants
    CPFDA certificants
    CRFDA certificants
    CDPMA certificants
    COMSA certificants
    CDIPC certificants   120-plus

    In addition, since 1997, more than 141,000 dental assistants have passed DANB’s Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, and more than 76,000 dental assistants have passed the Infection Control (ICE) exam.

  • Is DANB a membership organization?

    DANB is not a membership organization. DANB is the nationally recognized certification organization for dental assistants. In 1980, DANB separated from its parent, the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA). Although no longer directly related, DANB maintains an excellent relationship with the ADAA, as well as with other membership organizations and state dental boards.

  • What are the benefits of DANB certification?

    DANB’s certification and competency exams are currently recognized or required by 37 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs to perform expanded functions or expose radiographs. Other benefits of DANB certification are job mobility, greater earning power, professional advantage, peer recognition and enhanced employment opportunities.

  • Why should a dentist hire a DANB Certificant over a non-certified assistant?

    DANB certificants demonstrate lower job turnover and higher job satisfaction than other assistants. Also, DANB certificants must continuously expand their clinical knowledge. This not only advances a dental assistant’s career but also enhances the dental practice. DANB certification allows the dental assistant to perform expanded duties in certain states, which helps dentists comply with state regulations. In addition, DANB certificants may have reduced supervisory needs, depending on state law. Overall, DANB certification has a positive impact on employers, colleagues and patients.

  • How does DANB certification affect patients?

    DANB certification affects patients directly by providing a level of assurance that the dental assistant has obtained the clinical knowledge to competently provide patients with quality care. Certified assistants are proficient in protective measures that enhance patient health and safety. Certificants also affect patients indirectly, as certificants demonstrate lower job turnover. This impacts a dental practice with more stability, lower costs, a stronger dental team, and a higher level of comfort and confidence — which may lead to higher patient retention.

  • How are DANB’s Board of Directors elected?

    There are nine Directors on DANB's Board. The active DANB Board of Directors selects new Directors for each vacancy from at least two qualified nominees from the following organizations: American Dental Association (two directors), American Association of Dental Boards (one), the American Dental Education Association (one) and the American Dental Assistants Association (three). The remaining two positions are represented by a DANB certificant-at-large (elected by DANB certificants) and a member of the public (nominated by DANB’s Nominating Committee and elected by DANB’s Board).

    See DANB’s Current Board of Directors 


  • How can I get information on DANB’s national and state-specific exams?

    For more information about any of DANB’s national, state-specific or component exams, please visit our Exams and Certifications page.

    Learn More About DANB’s Exams & Certifications 

  • Am I on the DANB mailing list?

    Current and Emeritus DANB certificants, dental assisting program directors, state dental boards, state dental societies, dental membership organizations, state ADAA presidents, and dental and healthcare editors are eligible to receive DANB communications. This includes the Certified Press quarterly newsletter and current press releases. If you belong to one of these groups and would like to add your name to the mailing list or update your information in our database, please contact DANB's Marketing & Communications Department.