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Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the abundance of complex information and details related to the regulation of dental assistants in California, we have addressed the most frequently asked questions for both the Dental Assistant and other members of the dental team. We have organized these frequently asked questions into categories to make finding particular questions as easy as possible.

Unlicensed Dental Assistants and Their Requirements

Q. What are the course requirements for dental assistants?
A. Dental assistants can only expose dental radiographs after successful completion of a board-approved radiation safety course. As of January 2010, dental assistants are required to complete the following courses after 120 days of employment to within a year of the date of hire:
• Course in basic life support (must be American Red Cross or American Heart Association)
• Board approved course in infection control, must be at least 8 hours long
• Board approved course in the California Dental Practice Act (2hours)

Q. As a dental assistant, is it necessary to maintain my basic life support certification?
A. Yes, all members of the dental team, including dental assistants must have a basic life support certification by either the American Red Cross or American Heart Association

Q. As a dental assistant, is it necessary to renew my radiation safety certification to take dental x-rays?
A. No, once the course has been completed there is no need to renew certification.

Q. What should I do if my dentist wants to keep my x-ray certificate for his files?
A. Never give away the original certificate, it is very important. Instead make your employer a copy of the certificate.

Q. As of January, 2010 what are the requirements for becoming an RDA?
A. Applicants can become RDA's through on the job training or having graduated from a RDA approved dental assisting program. Applicants wanting to qualify, via the work experience pathway must have 15 months of work experience rather than 12 months. All applicants must have completed a board-approved course in the California Dental Practice Act (2hrs), an 8-hour board-approved course in infection control, a course in basic life support within five years prior to application, a board approved course in the application of pit and fissure sealants, coronal polish and a certificate in radiation safety (x-ray license). Individuals applying after January 1, 2010 must pass both a separate written examination in Law and Ethics and the RDA written examination, as well as passing a practical examination

Q. How do I apply for the RDA exam?
A. To apply for the RDA exam, you must file an application with the Dental Board. To file download the application from the Dental Board website www.dbc.ca.gov and fax the completed application to (916)274-2140 or mail it to 2005 Evergreen Street Suite 1550, Sacramento CA 95815(the Board prefers it be mailed). If you have any questions you can contact the Dental Board by calling (916)263-2595.

Q. When is the RDA written exam?
A. The written exam is computerized and scheduled by appointment at designated test sites, through PSI. You can download an application for the written by going to: www.dbc.ca.gov, clicking on applicants then proceed to the section entitled Written examination and downloading an application from PSI. You can also call PSI at: (877) 392-6422. For additional help, go to: the Dental Board's website www.dbc.ca.gov

Q. When is the RDA practical exam?
A. The practical exam is scheduled periodically throughout the year. To get the exam dates, testing locations and filing schedule go online to the Dental Boards website www.dbc.ca.gov be sure to follow the directions for filing as each testing session, has a specific filing period.

Q. When will I be given my exam dates for taking the written RDA exam?
A. After filing your application, for the RDA practical examination with the Dental Board, and after being accepted for the exam you will receive a letter confirming your acceptance. This letter will contain detailed information regarding both the practical examination and will also include a packet from PSI with information on the written exam. The written can be scheduled at any time after your application has been approved and you have been given a case number. The Dental Board only assigns a practical exam date and time. PSI will schedule a written examination date and time at a location near you.


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