Dental Assistant Requirements in Pennsylvania


Are you looking to become a dental assistant or are moving as a current dental assistant? Make sure to check the dental assistant requirements in Pennsylvania to see if you are still qualified in the state to practice.

Each state has different requirements for dental assistants, here are the levels, and functions permitted for dental assistants in Pennsylvania.

Levels of Dental Assistants in Pennsylvania

There are two levels of dental assistants in PA:

  1. Dental Assistant
  2. Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

1. Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in PA may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

2. Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

To perform expanded functions in Pennsylvania under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental assistant must hold a state certification as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). To obtain this state certification, one must:

  • Graduate from an expanded function dental assisting program at a two-year college or other Pennsylvania Board-approved institution which offers an associate degree, OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental hygiene school, which requires the successful completion of at least 75 hours of clinical and didactic instruction in restorative functions, OR
  • Complete a state certification program in expanded function dental assisting of at least 200 hours of clinical and didactic instruction from either a CODA-accredited dental assisting program or a Pennsylvania Board-approved dental assisting program, AND
  • Apply for state certification in expanded functions to the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry, AND
  • Pass a Pennsylvania Board-acceptable written exam.

Notes: Expanded function dental assistants who are currently licensed or certified in another state or territory, or in Canada, maybe granted licensure or certification in Pennsylvania if their credentials meet the requirements of the PA dental practice act.

Effective January 1, 2015, all applicants for a health-related license or certification, including EFDA certification, must complete three hours of Pennsylvania Department of Human Services-approved training in child abuse recognition and state reporting requirements as a condition of licensure.

Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry

Radiography Requirements for Dental Assistants in Pennsylvania

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in PA under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental assistant must:

Evidence of having passed the required exam should be retained by the dental assistant and the licensed dentist as evidence of the individual’s authority to perform radiologic procedures.

Note: Prior to Dec. 12, 2009, a Pennsylvania-specific radiography exam administered by an entity other than DANB was required. If a dental assistant qualified to perform radiography procedures by taking the former Pennsylvania exam prior to Dec. 12, 2009, both the dental assistant and their employer should retain evidence of the dental assistant’s passing the former PA radiography exam.

Photo by JD Bond

Natalie Kaweckyj

Natalie Kaweckyj

Natalie Kaweckyj, BA, LDA, CDA, RF, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, is a senior moderator of the Dental Peeps Network and a past president of the ADAA.