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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Vermont: The Dental Assistant requirements in Vermont you need to know about

Vermont dental assistants are registered by the Vermont Board of Dental Examiners. There are different levels of practice: Traditional Dental Assistant, Certified Dental Assistant, and Expanded Functions Dental Assistant. State code sets the scope of practice, as well as the minimum requirements, for each.

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Traditional Dental Assistant Requirements

Legal requirements for a Traditional Dental Assistant are minimal. Vermont mandates that individuals with the Traditional Dental Assistant designation have a course in emergency office procedures. A Traditional Dental Assistant can assist with intra-oral procedures but is permitted to take radiographs only if he or she has been issued a permit for this purpose.

Dental assistants who have not pursued programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) cannot perform coronal polishing or application of dental sealants until such time as they have accrued at least six months of employment as Traditional Dental Assistants.

Dental Radiography Endorsement

CDAs and EFDAs qualify to carry out radiographic duties by virtue of their registration. The following requirements apply to dental assistants who hold Traditional Dental Assistant registration.

The dental radiography endorsement can be issued to an individual who has completed an approved course in radiography and accrued six months of dental assisting experience. The course is to be offered by a CODA-accredited program. It is to include didactic and clinical (or practical) components. The minimum age for endorsement is 18.

The educational program does not have to be located within Vermont. The Board notes that qualifying courses are offered infrequently in Vermont and that a dental assistant may wish to enroll in a course located outside the state in order to expedite the process.

A radiography student may complete radiographs as necessary to complete course requirements, up to a maximum of 100.

Certified Dental Assistant Requirements in Vermont

Board rule states that a Certified Dental Assistant may practice at the level of his or her training except when practice is limited by law. A dental assistant can qualify by meeting requirements for national credentialing as a Certified Dental Assistant, or ‘CDA’, then completing the registration application process in Vermont.

In order to be approved to complete the CDA examination process through the Dental Assisting National Board and achieve certification, a dental assistant must provide evidence of either 1) accredited formal education or 2) two years (3,500 hours) of dental assisting experience. An exception is made for professionals who have had related training at a higher level (for example, international dentistry education) and for those who were previously certified as CDAs.

Only formal educational programs that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are accepted as qualifying by the Dental Assisting National Board. There is one CODA-accredited dental assisting program in Vermont.

CODA-accredited programs are comprehensive and include at least 300 hours of dental assisting field experience; this may be termed “externship”. (Non-accredited formal dental assisting programs are valuable only insofar as they develop skills and provide education and training that is valued by the individual employer. Non-accredited programs may or may not provide externship opportunities. Externships can be valuable for making contacts out in the real world and securing a job.)

There are three CDA component examinations. A prospective CDA may take two of these (Infection Control and Radiation Health and Safety) before meeting certification requirements. Only the General Chairside Assisting examination has formal prerequisites.

CDA examinations are administered through cooperation with the Pearson VUE testing company. They are computer-adapted. Candidates have a wide selection of locations and dates. However, registration must be carried out well in advance. Candidate guides are included in the application packets available for download from the DANB website (http://www.danb.org/Become-Certified/Exams-and-Certifications/CDA.aspx).

Certification candidates should expect background screening. They will also need to provide evidence of having received training in CPR.

Expanded Functions Dental Assistant Requirements

Vermont EFDAs are also allowed to practice to the extent of their training except in cases where there are conflicts with Vermont law. The Dental Assisting National Board notes that EFDAs must have education in each of the expanded functions they will be performing (http://www.danb.org/en/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Vermont.aspx). The EFDA is a credential for the highly skilled; dental hygienists may also choose to pursue it. The Vermont Dental Assistants Association has provided a link to a video that shows how EFDAs can be utilized in Vermont (http://vtdaa.org/education.html).

A CDA who is interested in pursuing the expanded functions certification will need to complete formal EFDA training through a CODA-accredited program. An EFDA program will include at least 50 hours of didactic training. The prospective EFDA will have a minimum of six weeks of training out in the field.

Dental assistants completing EFDA programs in Vermont may be eligible to receive tuition assistance from the state.

The Vermont TDA and CDA Application Process

Application is required at both the TDA and CDA levels. Application forms can be submitted online. Links can be found on the Board website (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/dental-examiners/forms-applications.aspx).

Traditional Dental Assistants may begin employment before registration, but must carry out the process within a limited timeframe.

Renewal is based on meeting continuing education requirements and being in good standing or compliance in required areas (for example, child support and taxes).

Additional Information

Vermont dental assistants are under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Board of Dental Examiners (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/dental-examiners.aspx). A Board representative can be reached at 802-828-2390. Statutes, rules, and policies are posted on the Board website (https://www.sec.state.vt.us/professional-regulation/list-of-professions/dental-examiners/statutes-rules.aspx). Requirements for dental assistants are found in Part 7 of Board Administrative Rules. Requirements change periodically.

The Vermont Dental Assistants Association is an additional professional resource. It is the state affiliate of the American Dental Assistants Association (http://vtdaa.org).