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Becoming a Dental Assistant in Oregon

Dental assistants in Oregon undertake multiple responsibilities by helping the dental team and their patients. As a dental assistant, you will get to perform various functions that make work easier for dentists.

In addition to the chairside duties like cleaning dental equipment, you have other responsibilities as well. These responsibilities include educating patients about oral hygiene, assisting dentists during procedures, and scheduling appointments.

You can also take on expanded duties with adequate training and supervision.

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Some of your responsibilities as a dental assistant with expanded functions include:

  • Taking x-rays
  • Assisting with anesthesia
  • Taking intra-oral and extraoral radiographs in the dentist or orthodontic office
  • Applying topical fluoride and desensitizing agents
  • Polishing the coronal surface of teeth 
  • Placing pit and fissure sealants

You will be allowed to perform these tasks under the direct or indirect supervision of a licensed dentist. 

Requirements for Dental Assistants in Oregon

Dental assistants in Oregon are not required to have formal education or certification to perform primary duties in dental offices.

According to the Oregon Board of Dentistry (OBD), you can perform administrative and chairside duties without certification or licensing. However, your current employer or dentist must be able to certify your proficiency in your tasks.

Although OBD does not require you to have a certificate or license, employers may favor candidates with these certifications:

  1. Restorative Functions Certification
  2. Anesthesia Dental Assistant Certification
  3. Radiologic Proficiency Certification
  4. Expanded Function Orthodontic Dental Assistant Certification
  5. Expanded Function General Dental Assistant Certification

The OBD requires these certifications for you to perform expanded functions in Oregon dental offices. 

What are Expanded Functions? 

Expanded functions are duties performed by an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). To become an EFDA in Oregon, you must:

  • Hold Oregon Certificate of Radiologic Proficiency
  • Complete a Commission on Dental Accreditation CODA-accredited dental assisting program
  • Apply for the Oregon EFDA certificate

You may also follow another pathway: 

  • Hold Oregon Certificate of Radiologic Proficiency
  • Pass DANB’s Certified Dental Assistant Exam
  • Pass the Oregon Expanded Function General Assisting Exam
  • Submit proof of proficiency from a licensed dentist
  • Apply for the Oregon EFDA certificate

As a dental assistant, the OBD also requires that you earn certifications to perform each expanded duty allocated to you. Various pathways allow you to perform EFDA duties. Below are what your duties entail and the certification you need.

Expanded Function General Dental Assistant

As an expanded function general assistant, you can:

  • Perform teeth whitening procedures, 
  • Place and remove matrix retainers, 
  • Put temporary restorative materials into teeth, 
  • Polish coronal surfaces of teeth 
  • Remove temporary crowns to prepare for final cementation. 

To perform these procedures under direct or indirect supervision, you will need to:

  1. Pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam
  2. Pass Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) approved EFDA exam
  3. Apply for the expanded function general certification
  4. Have proof of proficiency from a licensed dentist

You can also become eligible by presenting a similar certification from another state to the OBD and having at least 1000 hours of experience close to the standard in Oregon

Expanded Functions Dental Assistant with Restorative Functions

As an EFDA with restorative functions, you will be allowed to perform duties such as preparing a tooth and placing direct alloys or composite. To carry out these duties, you will need to earn its certification by:

  • Completing an OBD- approved restorative function program accredited by the commission on dental accreditation
  • Passing an OBD-approved exam within five years of application
  • Applying for the Oregon Restorative Function Certificate. 

Expanded Functions Dental Assistant with Orthodontic Functions

You will be allowed to take on duties such as:

  • Removing and placing orthodontic brackets,
  • Removing and placing orthodontic separators,
  • Taking impressions,
  • Adjusting and fitting headgears, and
  • Removing and placing orthodontic wires.

To gain certification for performing this procedure, you must:

  1. Complete COAD- accredited course of instruction program
  2. Apply for the Oregon expanded function Orthodontic Assistant Certification (EFODA)

You may also:

  1. Pass the Oregon basic dental assisting exam, 
  2. Pass the EFODA, 
  3. Provide proof from a licensed dentist that you have completed the clinical requirements and 
  4. Apply for the Oregon EFODA certification.

EFDA with Expanded Preventive Functions

To carry out preventive function clinical procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist, you must:

  1. Hold an Oregon Certificate of Radiology Proficiency
  2. Complete a course of instruction in a CODA-accredited program
  3. Apply for the Oregon Expanded Function Preventive Dental Assistant (EFPDA) certificate.

You may also acquire the certification by:

  1. Holding an Oregon Certificate of Radiology Proficiency,
  2. Passing the DANB preventive functions dental assistant exam,
  3. Passing the Oregon EFDA exam and
  4. Applying for the Oregon EFPDA exam.

Anesthesia Dental Assistant

You will be allowed to take on duties such as

  • Administering medication to sedated patients, 
  • Administering emergency medications
  • Dispensing oral medication already prepared by a licensed dentist

You will need to follow these steps to acquire the certification:

  1. Hold a current health care provider BLS/ CPR certification.
  2. Complete the Oral and Surgery Assistant Program conducted by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
  3. Apply for the Oregon Anesthesia Dental Assistant Certificate.

Radiographic Functions

Radiographic functions you can carry out include placing/exposing x-rays and adjusting equipment that is preparatory to x-rays

To perform these functions, you must:

  • Complete an OBD- approved course
  • Pass the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) health and safety exam
  • Pass the Oregon clinical radiographic proficiency exam.

Dental Assistant Schools in Oregon

Oregon has a few COAD- accredited community colleges that can train you to become an expanded dental assistant.

Below are a couple of choices for you if you decide to pursue formal education.

Central Oregon Community College, Oregon

Central Oregon Community College, Oregon
  1. Central Oregon Community College, Oregon
  2. Chemeketa Community College, Salem
  3. Linn Benton Community College, Albany
  4. Lane Community College, Eugene
  5. Portland Community College, Portland
  6. Umpqua Community College, Roseburg

For your convenience and comfort, Penn Foster also offers an online dental assisting program. You can study at a time and place of your choice!

Dental Assisting National Board(DANB)

The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) is a national organization that provides certification for dental assistants. To become DANB certified, you must pass the following exams:

CDA (Certified Dental Assistant)

RHS (Radiation Health and Safety)

ICE (Infection Control Exam)

You can find more information about the Dental Assisting National Board on their website.


Certification and License

Earning a certification in addition to formal education will increase your chances of success as a dentist assistant. It will also give you an edge over other applicants.

Here are a few certifications worth acquiring:

Certified dental assistant (CDA)

To qualify as a certified dental assistant, you must graduate from a COAD accredited dental assisting program or complete at least 3,500 hours of approved work experience. 

Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA)

To certificate requires that you either graduate from a COAD accredited dental assisting program or possess a current CDA certification and verification of competency in each of the four CFPDA function

Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant

You must have a current CDA certification or graduate from a CODA-accredited school to qualify for the examination.

Salary Expectation

Salary ranges of dental assistants can vary widely depending on the city of employment, education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent as a dentist assistant.

The average EFDA gross salary in Oregon is $46,385 per year and $22 hourly. That is 1% higher (+$240) than the average EFDA salary in the United States!

Top earners make as high as $42,809, but as a beginner, you can make around $37,634 and look to earn more with time.

Future Career Outlook

According to the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon’s total number of dental assistants should increase by 10.99% between 2012 and 2022.

Additional education and certification will increase your chances of employment in Oregon. To earn more and gain more experience, you should look for jobs in top cities like Portland, Clackamas, Oregon City, Adams, and Albany.

You can start your career in an entry-level position at a dental office, hospital, dental manufacturing office, or supplier.


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