Do Dental Assistants need certification?

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Dental assistant examining patient's teeth without certification

Can you be a Dental Assistant without certification?

Are you passionate about dental care and eager to pursue a career as a dental assistant? 

Perhaps you’re wondering if it’s possible to enter this rewarding field without formal certification. The dental industry holds numerous opportunities, but understanding the role of certification is crucial for aspiring professionals. 

In this article, we delve into the question that often lingers in the minds of many: Can you be a dental assistant without certification? 

So, let’s get started!

What is a dental assistant?

A dental assistant is a healthcare professional who supports dentists and dental hygienists in providing patient care. They perform various tasks, including preparing treatment rooms, sterilizing instruments, assisting during dental procedures, taking X-rays, scheduling appointments, and educating patients on oral hygiene after completion of a dental assistant course. 

What Are the Requirements to be a Dental Assistant?

Here are some common requirements to become a dental assistant:

  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Completion of a dental assisting program from an accredited institution (usually takes 9-12 months).
  • Some states may require dental assistants to be licensed or registered.
  • Basic knowledge of dental terminology, procedures, and instruments.
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Manual dexterity and attention to detail.
  • Understanding of infection control and sterilization protocols.
  • Familiarity with dental software and computer skills.
  • Some states may require certification, such as Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), which can be obtained through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
  • Continuing education to stay updated with advancements in the field.

Do You Need a License to be a Dental Assistant?

In Canada, some provinces do not require a formal license to practice as a dental assistant, while others have regulations in place that require dental assistants to obtain certification or registration.

For example:

  • Ontario: Dental assistants must be certified by the Ontario Dental Assistants Association (ODAA) and registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (CDSO).
  • Alberta: Dental assistants must be registered with the College of Alberta Dental Assistants (CADA).
  • British Columbia: Dental assistants must be registered with the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC).
  • Quebec: Dental assistants must be registered with the Ordre des hygienists dentaires du Québec (OHDQ).
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    Get the skills towards a career in Dental Assisting
    This program helps to prepare students to provide the services of a certified dental assistant as outlined in the BC College of Oral Health Professionals (BCCHOP)* Bylaws under the Health Professions Act of British Columbia.

Can you be a dental assistant without certification?

No, you cannot be a dental assistant without certification in Canada. In Canada, dental assistants are generally required to obtain certification or registration to practice and this certification ensures that dental assistants have met the educational and competency standards necessary to work in the profession.

How to obtain dental assistant certification?

The process of obtaining dental assistant certification is as followed;

  • Research the Requirements: Start by researching the specific certification requirements. Contact the dental regulatory body or professional association in your area to gather information on the necessary qualifications and application process.
  • Complete an Accredited Dental Assisting Program: Enroll in an accredited dental assisting program offered by a recognized educational institution. These programs provide the necessary theoretical knowledge and practical training required to become a dental assistant.
  • Fulfill Clinical Experience Requirements: In addition to completing the educational program, you may need to fulfill a certain number of clinical hours or hands-on experience under the supervision of a licensed dentist or dental professional. This requirement ensures you have practical skills and competence in dental assisting.
  • Pass the Certification Examination: Prepare for and successfully pass the certification examination administered by the dental regulatory body or professional association in your jurisdiction. The exam typically assesses your knowledge and competency in dental assisting practices and procedures.
  • Submit Application and Required Documentation: Complete the certification application and submit any necessary supporting documents, such as transcripts, proof of clinical experience, and examination results. Pay the required fees associated with the application process.
  • Fulfill Additional Requirements: You may need to fulfill additional requirements, such as CPR certification, criminal background checks, or continuing education obligations. Make sure to meet these requirements as specified.
  • Obtain Certification: Once your application is reviewed and approved, you will receive your dental assistant certification from the regulatory body or professional association. This certification demonstrates that you have met the necessary educational and competency standards to practice as a dental assistant.


In conclusion, while the allure of working as a dental assistant without certification might be tempting, it is essential to recognize the value and significance of obtaining proper certification in this field. 

Dental assisting requires a diverse skill set and knowledge base to ensure patient safety and quality care. Certification not only validates your expertise and competence but also opens doors to better job opportunities and professional growth.

 By investing in formal education, meeting clinical requirements, and passing certification examinations, you position yourself as a highly qualified dental assistant ready to embark on a fulfilling career journey. 

So, let certification be your compass as you chart your path towards success in the dynamic and rewarding world of dental assisting.

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