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Becoming a Dental Assistant in New Jersey: What to know about choosing a Dental Assistant School in New Jersey

In New Jersey, as in other states, there are different types of dental assistant. A New Jersey dental assistant may or may not need state licensing; this depends on the duties he or she performs. Some dental assistants will need licenses from two separate state agencies: one to authorize radiography, the other to authorize expanded intra-oral functions. New Jersey’s advanced functions dental assistants are known as Registered Dental Assistants (RDAs).

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Becoming a Registered Dental Assistant in New Jersey

A dental assistant who seeks authorization for expanded functions will have a more direct path if he or she graduates from a dental assisting program that has achieved accreditation by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). New Jersey has five CODA-accredited programs.

A dental assistant who does not have CODA-accredited education will be able to achieve the expanded functions license, but only after a period of work experience.

A graduate of a CODA-accredited school can qualify for RDA status after passing one of two qualifying third party examinations: Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) or Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA). Both tests are available through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

The CDA is comprised of the following component examinations:

  • Infection Control
  • Radiation Health and Safety
  • General Chairside Assisting

The COA is comprised of the following component examinations:

  • Infection Control
  • Orthodontic Assisting

A dental assistant who does not meet the above requirements can qualify by completing two years of work experience and passing the New Jersey Expanded Duties – General Examination (NJXDG). Although the NJXDG is a state-specific examination, it is also administered by DANB. Like the CDA and COA, it is multiple choice.The following are among the content areas:

  • Isolating the operative area
  • Removing sutures
  • Placing temporary restorations
  • Performing bite registration

The non-certified dental assistant has the option of enrolling in a NJSBD-approved expanded functions course en route to examination and licensure. However, this is not always required. Some individuals challenge the exam.

The Registered Dental Assistant Application Process

RDA applicants go through a criminal background check process. An individual who has been fingerprinted previously for some board or committee that is under the banner of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs may not be required to go through the fingerprinting process again.

RDA applications can be downloaded from the website of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/den/Pages/applications.aspx). The application includes a form that may be signed by either a dental practice or an educational institution. The applicant is also asked to include documentation of successful examination.

The application includes background screening questions. The applicant will sign an authorization for release of information by third parties and will have the form notarized. A small photograph must be attached to the application. The application fee is $35.

The candidate will need to take a state jurisprudence examination. The application includes a list of dates when the examination will be made available at the Board office.

Achieving Dental Radiologic Technologist Licensure

A New Jersey dental assistant will need a dental radiologic technologist license in order to carry out radiologic duties. The individual must be, at minimum, eighteen years old. He or she must possess the equivalent of at least a high school diploma and must be determined to have good character. The dental assistant will need to meet radiologic education and examination requirements.

The dental assistant can meet educational requirements by completing a program that has been approved by the New Jersey Radiologic Technology Board of Examiners. An equivalent program may be accepted.

The prospective dental radiologic technologist will take the DANB Radiation Health and Safety examination or another examination determined to be equivalent. The licensing agency can accept another state's licensing examination if it was taken in the five year period preceding application. The RHS exam may be taken as part of the examination process for Certified Dental Assistant; however, this is not mandatory.

Radiologic Technologist license application forms can be downloaded from the website of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (http://www.nj.gov/dep/rpp/tec/dental.htm).

An individual who completed a qualifying program more than five years in the past and does not hold certification as a CDA will need to document recent work experience or have a New Jersey dentist attest to his or her competency. If the person cannot document dental radiography work experience from the most recent five year period, he or she will need to note on the application that a New Jersey dentist is willing to allow skills demonstration; Bureau permission will be required. The applicant will contact the Board.

The RDA/ Radiologic Technologist Examination Process

All DANB examinations that are used as part of the New Jersey licensing process are administered in cooperation with Pearson VUE. Approved candidates are granted 60-day testing windows. Links to application materials can be found on the “New Jersey State Requirements” page of the DANB website (http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/New-Jersey.aspx). Applications also serve as candidate handbooks; they include detailed information about the testing process as well as information about specific examinations.

Additional Information

Information about Registered Dental Assistant requirements is available from the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry (http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/den/Pages/default.aspx). The Board can be reached by telephone at (973) 504-6405.

Information about dental radiologic technologist licensure is available from the State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (http://www.nj.gov/dep/rpp/tec/dental.htm). The Bureau of X-Ray Compliance can be reached by telephone at (609) 984-5890 or by email at ‘bxc at dep.nj.gov’.

The New Jersey Dental Assistants Association is the state chapter of the American Dental Assistants Association, a professional association (http://www.njdaa.org/).