Dental Assistant Programs Ohio: How to Become a Dental Assistant in Ohio

Ohio recognizes different levels of dental assisting. Allowable practice is defined in Ohio administrative code. Some dental assisting duties have a multi-step qualification process. The dental assistant will first achieve certification through an accepted state or national certifying body and will then enter a specialized training program.

Ohio recognizes certification granted by two third party organizations: the Dental Assisting National Board and the Commission on Ohio Dental Assistant Certification. Certification serves as a prerequisite qualification for coronal polishing and application of pit and fissure sealants, though the dental assistant will need to complete some additional training. Certification can serve as the basis for dental assistant radiographer licensing. It is a typical requirement for entry into an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) program. Licensure as an EFDA requires both training and examination.

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Requirements for Basic Qualified Personnel

Ohio healthcare workers are required to have Hepatitis B virus immunization/ immunity unless they are granted waivers.

Dental assistants at the most basic level work as basic qualified personnel. Basic qualified personnel may receive their training either on-the-job or through dental assisting school.

In order to be qualified to monitor nitrous oxide, a dental assistant must be at least 18 and must have accrued at least 3,000 hours of experience over a period of not less than two years. He or she must complete basic life support through one of the following:

  • American Heart Association
  • American Red Cross
  • American Safety and Health Institute

The dental assistant will need to complete a six hour training course in the monitoring of nitrous oxide minimal sedation.

Achieving Certification through the Dental Assisting National Board

A person who seeks DANB certification as a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) will need to meet certification prerequisites; generally, this is accomplished by either graduating from a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or accruing 3,500 work experience hours.

The CDA examination is made up of three tests: Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside Assisting. An individual can opt to take the Infection Control and Radiation Health and Safety tests before meeting CDA requirements. All tests are multiple choice. Examinations are scheduled through Pearson VUE. They are available on an ongoing basis. However, the person will need to submit his or her application well in advance of the intended test date; application processing generally takes three to four weeks.

Achieving Certification through the Commission on Ohio Dental Assistant Certification

In order to be eligible for CODA certification a person must either graduate from a dental assisting program or accrue a year of dental assisting experience.

There are three components to the testing process: written examination, clinical examination, and radiography certification. The clinical examination includes a number of tasks, among them, the following: equipment identification, matrix retainers, chairside, and patient education. The written test includes approximately 250 questions; it is multiple choice. The radiography test includes x-ray exposing and mounting as well as approximately 100 written questions. The Commission on Ohio Dental Assistant Certification notes that a person must pass the radiology test to achieve certification even if he or she already holds a radiology certificate.

Applications, recommendations and candidate brochures can be downloaded from the CODA website ( Examinations are available twice a year. Students may take the CODA exam if they have completed at least 50% of their program. The Commission on Ohio Dental Assistant Certification will require either an employer recommendation or instructor examination at the time of license application.

Achieving State Credentialing as a Dental Assistant Radiographer

A person who has achieved certification as a CDA or CODA has also met most requirements for licensure as a Dental Assistant Radiographer in Ohio. He or she will need to go through a separate application process.

A dental assistant may also be credentialed as a radiographer on the basis of having completed a Board-approved program. A list of approved programs can be found on the Board website (

Achieving State Licensure as an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary

Certification as an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary is dependent on completion of a 180 hour EFDA program. A qualifying program is one that is accredited by CODA or by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Didactic and preclinical training must comprise 100 hours; clinical training, 80 hours. Prospective EFDAs will need to demonstrate qualifications in order to be accepted into a program. The Commission on Dental Testing in Ohio notes that while requirements vary, schools typically look for a qualifying certification; some also require a couple of years of experience (

Licensure is by examination. The dental assistant may test through the Commission on Dental Testing in Ohio ( or the Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (

The CDCA exam is not Ohio-specific, but some eligibility pathways are. The Commission on Dental Competency Assessments can accept 1) certification by the Ohio Commission on Dental Assistant Certification or the Dental Assisting National Board or 2) completion of a training program that meet requirements in Ohio administrative code. The CDCA will also accept dental students, dental hygienists, and graduates of foreign schools of dentistry. Unlicensed dental hygienists and dentists may test provided they have not had licenses suspended or revoked.

Coronal Polishing Permits

In order to be eligible for a coronal polishing certificate, a CDA or CODA must complete an approved seven hour course. The individual may complete testing through DANB or OCDAC, or through the individual approved school.

A CDA or CODA may also achieve the certificate on the basis of an out-of-state authorization, provided that the training was at least equivalent to what would be received in an Ohio program.

The License Application Process

Ohio has an online application system, the eLicense Ohio Portal. EFDA and dental radiography applicants may call the Helpline at 855-405-5514 or 614-728-4077 if they are having difficulties with the application process.

EFDA application costs $20; dental assistant radiographer application, $25.

The EFDA or radiographer licensing period is two years. The first licensing period may be shorter.

Additional Information

Information is available from the Ohio State Board of Dentistry. The Licensing Coordinator can be reached at ‘licensing at’ or 614-466-2580.