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Dental Assistant Requirements in Hawaii: You Have Paths to Choose from to Become a Dental Assistant in Hawaii

Hawaii does not license or register dental assistants. However, the state does set very basic training requirements – this is to ensure the safety of all involved. Hiring standards are left to the individual dentist.

Hawaii dental assistants have the opportunity to demonstrate standards at a generally accepted national standard by achieving voluntary certification.

Select a Hawaii Dental Assistant Topic:

Dental Assistant Training in Hawaii

Hawaii dental assistants can be trained on the job. However, they will need some training through approved sponsors.

Dental assistant training must be “appropriate” and must include the following:

  • Record keeping and confidentiality
  • CPR
  • Ethics
  • Sterilization and disinfection

Sterilization and disinfection procedures must meet the guidelines set by the following:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • The State of Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
  • The Centers for Disease Control
  • The American Dental Association

Approved sponsoring organizations are listed in state code. The following are examples: the Hawaii Department of Health, the American Dental Association, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, Board-approved dental assisting programs, and state professional organizations. The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association are the best known and most widely accepted CPR training providers.

Ultimately, the dental assistant may need a good deal of training. There are many tasks that can legally be delegated to a Hawaii dental assistant. The following are examples:

  • Taking dental and medical histories
  • Assisting with ‘four-handed dentistry’ (for example, transferring instruments or retracting patient oral tissue)
  • Exposing and processing radiographs (x-rays)
  • Making some types of dental impression (for example, impressions used for mouth guards or orthodontic retainers)
  • Monitoring nitrous oxide/oxygen units
  • Removing sutures
  • Applying some types of topical anesthetic

Many dental assistant opt for formal education via a dental assistant school in Hawaii. There are multiple options with varying time commitments. A basic program may be completed in a single semester. One that is accredited at the program level will generally take at least two to three semesters.

Achieving National Dental Assistant Certification

Many states officially recognize the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential offered by the Dental Assisting National Board. Kapi'olani Community College notes that, while Hawaii is not among the states that require certification, federal agencies do seek workers who are certified.

Certification is a multi-step process. In order to be authorized to complete the examination process, an individual must either graduate from a program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation or work as a chairside dental assistant for two years. In the latter case, the employing dentist will confirm that the individual has had the training necessary to develop skill in a variety of areas. Examples include providing oral patient education, assisting with four-handed dentistry, completing documentation, and preventing emergencies.

Candidates who qualify by experience must document that they have, at minimum, graduated from high school or attained equivalency through the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services or the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

A dental assistant may initiate the certification process before completing his or her work experience period. There are no prerequisites for the Infection Control Examination (ICE) or Radiation Health and Safety Examination (RHS). Prerequisites must be met, however, before the General Chairside Examination (GC) can be attempted. A GC/ CDA applicant will document that he or she has met the education or experience requirement and is current on CPR. A list of approved CPR providers can be found in the application packet.

All candidates for national examination must answer background questions (for example, professional disciplinary history).

The following are among the concepts tested on the ICE:

  • Aseptic conditions
  • Occupational safety
  • Instrument processing
  • Prevention of cross-contamination

The following are among the concepts tested on the RHS:

  • Radiation regulations
  • Radiation safety
  • Infection control (as it relates to dental radiography)

The following are among the concepts tested on the GC:

  • Chairside procedures
  • Chairside and laboratory dental materials
  • Data collection and recording
  • Office procedures

All examinations are computer adaptive and are offered in cooperation with Pearson VUE. Candidates who take all three examinations in the same administration pay a $425 testing fee. Taking tests during separate administrations will result in higher total fees.

The examination blueprint includes suggested study resources.

CDA certification is maintained through continuing education.

Hawaii Scope of Practice

The Dental Assisting National Board also offers advanced certifications. No matter what training a dental assistant has received, he or she is still bound by the scope of practice set down in state code. It is similar in many ways to that of other states. However, some states allow highly trained dental assistants to carry out some duties that Hawaii explicitly forbids; an example would be placing retraction cords.

The Dental Assisting National Board has also provided discussion of allowable scope of duty for Hawaii dental assistants (http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Hawaii.aspx).

Additional Information

Dental assistant standards are described in state administrative code. Administrative code can be accessed from the website of the Dentist and Dental Hygienist Board (http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/boards/dentist). Professionals should be aware that regulations do periodically change.

Professional and Vocational Licensing can be reached by telephone at (808) 586-3000. The Dentist and Dental Hygienist Board can be reached at ‘dental at dcca.hawaii.gov’.