Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Certification

What is the CDA certification?

The CDA certification is a nationally recognized certification for dental assistants. It is awarded by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and indicates that the holder has met national standards for knowledge and skills in dental assisting.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the CDA certification, a dental assistant must have graduated from a dental assisting program or have at least two years of on-the-job training. The dental assistant must also pass three DANB exams: Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), Infection Control (ICE), and General Chairside (GC).


Format: The CDA exam is a computer-based test that consists of 320 multiple-choice questions and a hands-on component. The multiple-choice questions are divided into three sections: Radiation Health and Safety (100 questions), Infection Control (100 questions), and General Chairside (120 questions).

Time: Candidates have 4 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam.

Location: The CDA exam is administered at Pearson VUE testing centers, which are located throughout the United States.

Hands-on component: The hands-on component of the CDA exam is called the “Clinical Simulated Exam.” Candidates must demonstrate their skills in four dental procedures: chairside assisting, dental impressions, dental restorations, and sterilization and infection control. The hands-on component is completed at a DANB-approved testing site.

Passing score: Candidates must achieve a passing score of 400 or higher on the CDA exam. The score is based on the multiple-choice questions and the hands-on component.

Retakes: If a candidate does not pass the CDA exam on the first attempt, they may retake the exam up to three times within a five-year period. Candidates must wait 90 days before retaking the exam.

What is covered on the CDA exam?

The CDA exam covers a range of topics related to dental assisting, including infection control, dental materials, chairside assisting, and dental specialties. The exam includes multiple-choice questions and a hands-on component where candidates must demonstrate their skills in dental procedures.

What are the benefits of the CDA certification?

The CDA certification demonstrates to employers and patients that a dental assistant has met national standards for knowledge and skills in dental assisting. It may also lead to higher pay, greater job opportunities, and increased job satisfaction. Certified dental assistants also have access to continuing education opportunities to maintain their certification.

How long is the CDA certification valid?

The CDA certification is valid for one year and must be renewed annually. To renew their certification, certified dental assistants must complete continuing education credits and comply with DANB’s ethical and professional standards.

How can I prepare for the CDA exam?

DANB offers study resources, such as study guides and practice exams, to help dental assistants prepare for the CDA exam. Reviewing content areas and practicing hands-on procedures can also help candidates feel more confident in their knowledge and skills.

How do I apply for the CDA certification?

To apply for the CDA certification, dental assistants must complete an application and pay a fee. They must also provide documentation of their education or work experience and schedule a testing appointment with a DANB testing center.

What else do i need to know about the CDA?

Renewal: To maintain their CDA certification, dental assistants must renew their certification annually. This requires completing 12 continuing education credits in dental assisting and complying with DANB’s ethical and professional standards.

Other certifications: In addition to the CDA certification, DANB offers several other certifications for dental assistants, including the Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA), Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA), and Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant (CRFDA).

State requirements: While the CDA certification is a national certification, some states have their own requirements for dental assistants. Dental assistants should check their state’s requirements before pursuing the CDA certification.

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