Registered Dental Assistant vs Certified Dental Assistant

Here, let’s discuss RDA vs. CDA.

Dentistry practice involves all kinds of professionals ranging from dentists to their support staff.

Dental assistants are essential to the smooth running of a clinic and perform all kinds of support work as assigned by the dentist.

What is an RDA in dentistry?

Now there are two kinds of dental assistants.

They include certified and registered dental assistants. These two dental assisting positions may sound alike, but they have unique roles.

What is the Difference between RDA and CDA?

We’re comparing this to help readers understand the similarities and differences between certified and registered dental assistants.

If you plan on finding a role that’s best for you, this article will help. All you have to do is tag along as we get into details of what makes these careers similar and different.

  • Who’s a Certified Dental Assistant?

As expected, certified dental assistants (CDAs) work in dental clinics and handle specific roles assigned by the dentist.

Such roles may be essential, like preparing patients for dental procedures, taking X-rays, or taking impressions of patients’ teeth.

However, you’ll hardly find certified dental assistants handling complex tasks like operating radiographic equipment or administering anesthesia.

Compared to registered dental assistants, these professionals have fewer formal education requirements.

  • RDA Dental Meaning

Registered dental assistants, or RDAs, are trained to perform the duties of a general dental assistant and a dental technician. These professionals typically handle more responsibilities than CDAs and require less supervision.

RDAs can perform less complex dental procedures like filling cavities and teeth cleaning.

These professionals also help administer topical anesthesia and prepare clinical spaces for dental procedures, amongst several other tasks to be discussed shortly.

CDAs vs. RDAs: Similarities and Differences

In this section, we get into specifics on the similarities and differences between certified and registered dental assistants. The information provided is comprehensive enough to guide you in choosing a career that best serves your needs.

In making these comparisons, we consider aspects like primary roles or duties, skills required, work settings, and type of training.

Other aspects to discuss include training duration, credentialing organization, specializations, and state or local requirements.

i. Primary Roles or Duties

When it comes to roles or duties, both CDAs and RDAs tend to have similarities.

This is especially true for states that do not differentiate the two credentials. Speaking of responsibilities, these range from billing patients or insurance and completion of dental X-rays.

More responsibilities include the performance of basic cleaning tasks, cleaning tools, maintaining patient records, and scheduling patient appointments.

Also, CDAs and RDAs inquire about patients’ medical history and provide patients with post-procedure aftercare instructions,

ii. Skills Required

Because CDAs and RDAs share similar roles or responsibilities, specific skills are essential to their effective functioning.

These skills include focusing or concentrating on specific tasks with little room for errors, being detail-oriented, and staying organized to ensure the following dental procedure goes smoothly.

CDAs and RDAs also require much patience as they interact with patients to understand their concerns fully.

Also essential to both professionals is people skills. This helps with effective interaction with other dental professionals and patients.

Additional skills required include time management, basic technical and computer skills, adaptability, and strong dental health knowledge.

iii. Work Settings

This is another area where similarities are easily noticed. In other words, both CDAs and RDAs work in similar types of environments.

Such include public health facilities, group practices, dental suppliers, educational institutions, private dental offices, and hospitals.

iv. Type of Training

To become a certified dental assistant, you can use multiple forms of education and work experience.

Part of this includes graduating from the dental assisting program at the diploma or degree level. Also essential is gaining at least two years of supervised clinical experience in a dental clinic.

For registered dental assistants, requirements include graduating from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredited dental assisting program with a diploma or associate’s degree.

v. Training Duration

The duration of a program is one of the critical determinants of whether a program is suitable for one’s needs.

Certified dental assistants have specific requirements from the Dental Assisting National Boards (DANB). This, coupled with a CODA-accredited program, takes two years to complete.

Training duration for registered dental assistants tends to be longer. This is especially true for states requiring prior certification.

You may be required to have three years of previous experience, and such must have been supervised by a registered dental assisting professional.

vi. Credentialing Organization

The credentialing organizations for certified and registered dental assistants vary.

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is the primary credentialing organization for certified dental assistants.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) is the credentialing organization for registered dental assistants.

vii. Specializations

There are specialization paths for CDAs and RDAs to advance their careers.

These include pediatric dentistry and oral & maxillofacial surgery. More specialization options include endodontics, orthodontics, and periodontics.

Researching these dental assistant specializations goes a long way in helping you gain a much deeper understanding of what route to take.

Of course, you’ll have to choose one more suitable that aligns with your needs as an aspiring CDA or RDA professional.

viii. State or Local Requirements

For the most part, titles and requirements vary by state.

For certified dental assistants, the DANB is a national board. As such, it gives CDAs an edge in terms of certifications and is easily transferred to different states.

This limits the likelihood of states creating their own set of unique requirements for the certification of dental assistants.

RDAs, on the other hand, will generally work in the states where they’re licensed.

While that is true, not all states require licensure. You’ll have to check with your state to determine whether it involves licensure.

It’s common to find states with their sets of requirements.

  • Certified vs. Registered Dental Assistant – Conclusion

Certified and registered dental assistants have several areas of similarities and differences. Understanding these aspects gives you an idea of what dental assisting path to take.