DANB Renames New Certification Program

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CHICAGO (Dec. 29, 2010) – The Dental Assisting National Board, Inc. (DANB) has renamed its new expanded functions certification program. The new Certified Preventive Dental Assistant (CPDA) certification program includes component exams on Coronal Polish (CP), Sealants (SE), Topical Fluoride (TF) and Topical Anesthetic (TA). The certification program was pretested under the name Certified Oral Preventive Assistant (COPA). The CPDA component exams, eligibility requirements and renewal requirements do not differ from the certification that was originally developed under the name COPA.

DANB originally developed the COPA certification in support of the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Oral Preventive Assistant (OPA) workforce model, which the ADA’s House of Delegates approved in October 2006. However, it came to DANB’s attention that the certification exam was not in complete alignment with ADA’s OPA workforce model. DANB selected the CPDA certification mark to allow for more flexibility in the future.

The dental practice acts in 32 states allow or do not prohibit dental assistants to perform all four of the CPDA functions. These duties are considered expanded functions in most states. Additionally, dental assistants are allowed to:

  • Perform coronal polishing procedures in 42 states
  • Apply topical fluoride in 40 states
  • Apply sealants in 32 states
  • Apply topical anesthetic in 41 states

“DANB shares state dental boards’ public protection mission, and believes there is a great need for these exams. Already, DANB has received a positive response from some dental assistants, dentists and some members of the dental community regarding our plans for this new certification program addressing preventive duties to enhance oral health,” explains DANB Executive Director Cindy Durley, M.Ed., MBA. “Because of this interest, DANB opted to select a certification mark name that allows for flexibility to measure functions desired or performed in the oral healthcare arena that might not be reflected in a specific workforce model or curriculum.”

DANB conducted pretesting of qualified candidates for the CPDA certification exam, which includes all four component exams, from July 2010 through December 2010. DANB solicited current DANB CDAs who work in states where all four CPDA functions may be legally delegated to dental assistants, to participate in the pretest at no charge. All pretest candidates were required to meet eligibility requirements (various combinations of DANB Certification, graduation from a Commission on Dental Accreditation-accredited dental assisting or dental hygiene program, and documentation of knowledge- or perfomance-based competency in the four preventive functions assessed by the CDPA certification program). Pretesting ended in December 2010, and the new CPDA certification exam program will be available to all qualified dental assistants beginning April 2011.


About DANB

DANB is recognized by the American Dental Association as the national certification board for dental assistants. DANB's certification programs are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. DANB serves the public by promoting a means of identifying qualified and competent dental assistants and by measuring and promoting excellence in oral healthcare delivery. As a Mark of Dental Assisting Excellence, DANB Certification is a source of pride for those who achieve it. Currently, there are more than 33,000 DANB Certificants nationwide, and DANB Certifications and Certificates of Competency are recognized or required in 38 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs. For those dental assistants who meet the eligibility and exam requirements, DANB Certification may be earned in the areas of Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) and/or Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA). In addition to these two national certifications, DANB offers Certificates of Competency in Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) and Infection Control (ICE). The RHS and ICE exams are components of the CDA exam, and ICE is also a component of the COA exam. Individuals may take these components separately in order to earn Certificates of Competency. Passing either or both of these exams demonstrates a dental assistant's competency in these two areas that are important to the health and safety of oral healthcare workers and patients alike.

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