How to Become a Dental Assistant in Pennsylvania

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Pennsylvania

Entry-level dental assistants in Pennsylvania don’t need special qualifications in order to work in a dental office, though they have to perform their duties while being supervised by a licensed dentist.

Dental assistants can pursue 2 certifications that allow them to perform additional duties: 

  • Certification for X-ray Procedures
  • Certification for Expanded Functions (EFDA)

Having these certifications improves the chances of finding employment and earning a higher salary.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Upper Darby$40,500

Requirements for a Dental Assistant

To work as an entry-level dental assistant, individuals must:

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  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be legally able to work in the United States
  • Not have any significant criminal record
  • Have a high school diploma or GED

These dental assistants are permitted to:

  • Undertake tasks considered appropriate by the supervising dentist
  • Perform occupational safety procedures
  • Perform infection control

Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

 EFDAs can perform the following tasks while being supervised by a dentist:

  • Placing and removing matrices, rubber dams, and wedges
  • Applying bases and cavity liners
  • Placing, condensing, carving, and contouring amalgam restorations
  • Finishing and placing sealant material and composite resin restorations
  • Coronal polishing
  • Fluoride treatments such as fluoride varnishing
  • Taking various impressions of teeth

One can become an EFDA through the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry.

The process involves completing an educational program and passing an EFDA Exam.

Those who want to earn their EFDA Certification can qualify in one of these ways:

  • Obtaining an associate’s of science degree from a dental assistant school in Pennsylvania that is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry
  • Completing a dental hygiene program accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission that has a minimum of 75 hours of didactic and clinical instruction related to restorative functions
  • Completing a dental assistant certification program approved by the State Board of Dentistry, of at least 200 hours of didactic and clinical instruction, that specifically covers expanded functions
School NameAddress
All-State Career School-Allied Health Campus50 W Powhattan Ave, Essington, Pennsylvania 19029
Berks Technical Institute2205 Ridgewood Rd, Wyomissing, Pennsylvania 19610-1168
Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology540 N Harrison Rd, Pleasant Gap, Pennsylvania 16823
Everest Institute-Bensalem3050 Tillman Drive, Bensalem, Pennsylvania 19020-2062
Greater Altoona Career & Technology Center1500 4th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602
Great Lakes Institute of Technology5100 Peach Street, Erie, Pennsylvania 16509-2482
Harcum College750 Montgomery Ave, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
Harris School of Business-Upper Darby Campus20 South 69th St, Upper Darby, Pennsylvania 19082
Harrisburg Area Community College in Harrisburg (HACC)1 HACC Dr, Harrisburg, PA 17110
Institute of Medical Careers (IMC)133 Jefferson Rd, Pittsburgh, PA 15235
Lehigh Valley School of Dental Assisting881 3rd St, Whitehall, PA 18052,
Luzerne County Community College1333 South Prospect Street, Nanticoke, Pennsylvania 18634-3899
Manor College700 Fox Chase Rd, Jenkintown, PA 19046
Pittsburgh Career Institute421 Seventh Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Westmoreland County Community College145 Pavilion Lane, Youngwood, Pennsylvania 15697-1895
YTI Career Institute-Capital Region401 East Winding Hill Road Suite 101, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania 17055

After meeting one requirement, candidates must fill out the application form and send it to the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry, with the following documents:

  • Application fee -$75
  • A curriculum vitae of a candidate’s professional activities since completing the dental assisting academic program
  • Proof of current CPR certification
  • Any out-of-state licenses, permits, or certifications – if they exist
  • Official dental assistant academic transcripts or degrees

The last two types of documents need to be sent directly to the Board by the agencies that issued them.

If the application is complete, the candidate will receive an EFDA exam eligibility postcard from PSI.

Candidates can register online for the exam.

The exam lasts for 150 minutes and costs $99.

Only those passing the exam receive their EFDA Certification.

Authorization to Perform X-rays

With this authorization, the professional can perform X-rays while being supervised by a dentist.

Candidates need to first pass the Radiology Health and Safety (RHS) exam, offered through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB), which costs $175.

The exam has 4 main parts:

  • Exposure and evaluation – approximately 26%
  • Quality assurance and radiology regulations – 21%
  • Radiation safety for patients and operators – 31%
  • Infection control – 22%

Once they pass, they need to send a completed application and the $75 application fee to the State Board of Dentistry.

Maintaining Qualifications in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, dental assistants with an expanded function certification need to renew their credentials every odd-numbered year, before March 31.

There are a few steps to complete and a few requirements before they can renew their credentials.

First, those interested need to complete a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education, and the subjects can cover the following:

  • Infection control
  • Laws and regulations that pertain to EFDAs
  • Scientific and medical subjects
  • Technological and clinical subjects
  • Emergency procedures
  • Abuse and neglect

Once the continued education is completed they need a documenting attesting it.

Then, candidates have to fill out an application and send it along with the renewal fee of $25 and the attestation and send all these documents to the State Board of Dentistry.

During the first full period of renewal, EFDAs must complete a minimum of 3 hours in coronal polishing at a hands-on clinical training course.

These hours must be part of their continuing education hours, and they can bypass it if they already completed a similar type of training.

Professional organizations can provide additional information about subjects including:

  • Dental assistant jobs in Pennsylvania
  • Upcoming continuing education opportunities
  • Dental assistant certification programs in Pennsylvania

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