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What is a Certified Dental Assistant?

Certified Dental Assistants (CDAs) are an essential member of the dental healthcare team. They assist the dentist, provide patient education and comfort, patient care procedures, and office administration services.

Certified dental assistants are employed in general dental offices, specialty practices such as children's specialist, orthodontics, or oral surgery. CDAs also practice in hospital dental clinics, the BC Cancer Agency, community health clinics, and residential care facilities for seniors and the disabled. Employment opportunities also exist in CDA education, research, sales and marketing of dental products, and dental insurance company administration. 

However, not every dental assistant is certified. Only those that have completed approved training and are registered with the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals can call themselves Certified Dental Assistants. Be sure to ask your dentist whether the dental assistants in his or her office are certified. If they are not, they may not have any training at all. You have a right to know whether the personnel providing your dental care and treatment have adequate training.

How are CDAs regulated?

A Guide to Certified Dental Assistant Services in BC

This document from the British Columbia College of Oral Health Professionals explains how CDA services are governed under the CDSBC bylaws - as well as the conditions that must be in place in order to perform them.

Key points:

  • The services a CDA can perform will depend on the type of certification they hold and whether the service is considered a 'restricted activity', which means it poses a higher risk and can be performed only by a professional to whom government has granted authority.
  • It is the dentist's responsibility to delegate only to a person they know is competetent to perform the service. It is the CDA's responsibility to provide only the services they have the knowledge, skills and competency to perform.

Please view the document to find out about practices that are not restricted, must be delegated by a dentist, or must be supervised by a dentist.

The document below outlines the legal scope of practice for certified dental assistants in each province (click to enlarge).

Canadian Dental Assisting Legal Scope Of Practice 2018 Page 1

Useful Links

Canadian Dental Assistant Associations

Canadian Dental Related Organizations

International Dental Related Organizations

American Dental Assistants Associations

American Dental Association

California Dental Assistants Association

International Congress of Oral Implantologists 

Massachusetts Dental Assistants Association

Nebraska Dental Assistants Association

New York Dental Assistants Association

Northern Kentucky Dental Assistants Association

Tennessee Dental Assistants Association

Texas Dental Assistants Association

Vermont Dental Assistants Association

The Dental Assisting National Board

International Association for Dental Research

Australian Dental Association

The Dental Assistants Professional Association (Australia)

Argentina Dental Association

Bavarian Dental Association

British Association of Dental Nurses

British Dental Association

Hong Kong Dental Association

Irish Dental Nurses Association

Jamaica Dental Association

Japan Dental Association

Lebanese Dental Association

New Zealand Dental Association

The Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries 

The Swedish Dental Nurses Association

Swedish Dental Association


Dental Related Suppliers

Sunstar Canada (GUM & Butler brands)

Proctor & Gamble Global (Crest & Oral-B brands)

Oral B

The Aurum Group: Dental labs

Germiphene: Dental supply

Sinclair Dental Supply Continuing education and supply (Proctor & Gamble)

Nobel BioCare: Dental implants

Health Organizations

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