Pennsylvania Dental Assistant Requirements

Radiography Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Pennsylvania, under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist a dental assistant must meet the requirements shown below.

Radiography Requirements

In Pennsylvania, a dental assistant must:

1. Pass the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam

Evidence of having passed the required exam should be retained by the dental assistant and the licensed dentist as evidence of the individual’s authority to perform radiologic procedures.

**Note: Prior to Dec. 12, 2009, a Pennsylvania-specific radiography exam administered by an entity other than DANB was required. If a dental assistant qualified to perform radiography procedures by taking the former Pennsylvania exam prior to Dec. 12, 2009, both the dental assistant and his her employer should retain evidence of the dental assistant's passing the former Pennsylvania radiography exam.

Dental Assisting Job Titles and Requirements for Each Level

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Pennsylvania may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.

There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

To perform expanded functions in Pennsylvania under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental assistant must hold a state certification as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). To obtain this state certification, one must:

1a. Graduate from an expanded function dental assisting program at a two-year college or other Pennsylvania Board-approved institution which offers an associate degree, OR 

1b. Graduate from a CODA-Accredited dental hygiene school, which requires the successful completion of at least 75 hours of clinical and didactic instruction in restorative functions, OR 

1c. Complete a state certification program in expanded function dental assisting of at least 200 hours of clinical and didactic instruction from either a CODA-Accredited dental assisting program or a Pennsylvania Board-approved dental assisting program, AND

2. Apply for state certification in expanded functions to the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry, AND

3. Pass a Pennsylvania Board-acceptable written exam.

Notes: Expanded function dental assistants who are currently licensed or certified in another state or territory, or in Canada, may be granted licensure or certification in Pennsylvania if their credentials meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania dental practice act.

Effective January 1, 2015, all applicants for a health-related license or certification, including EFDA certification, must complete three hours of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services-approved training in child abuse recognition and state reporting requirements as a condition of licensure.

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