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Inside Dental Assisting
Sept/Oct 2012
Volume 10, Issue 5

Education Revisions for Dental Assistants

Upcoming opportunities to review and comment on proposed changes

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) has directed its Dental Assisting Review Committee (DA RC) to begin the process of reviewing and updating the Standards for Dental Assisting Educational Programs to provide for review of programs with an Expanded Functions Dental Assisting (EFDA) component. In response to this directive, the DA RC received suggestions from the dental assisting education community and reviewed commonly allowed dental assisting functions currently not addressed within the Accreditation Standards for Dental Assisting Programs, several standards related to additional functions, and a new proposed standard on Ethics and Professionalism.

The DA RC concluded that to monitor and evaluate programs with an EFDA component, and to better serve and protect the public, further revisions within the Dental Assisting Accreditation Standards should be made to address four areas: 1) admissions requirements; 2) standards that measure competency in performing dental assisting functions; 3) standards for faculty qualifications and overall resources; and 4) standards that address ethical and professional responsibility. The DA RC believes the proposed revised standards document (available online at will work to strengthen the educational process and serve the greater needs of the public by offering more clarification and guidance to CODA-accredited dental assisting programs, including those offering curriculum with additional or expanded functions.

Review and Comments

At its February 3, 2012 meeting, the Commission directed that the proposed revised Accreditation Standards for Dental Assisting Education Programs be circulated for comment among the communities of interest for a period of one year. Final open hearings will be held during the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) and ADA Annual Sessions, October 18 – 21, 2012 in San Francisco, CA. Comments may also be submitted by December 30 to the Commission on Dental Accreditation, 211 E. Chicago Ave., Suite 1900, Chicago, IL 60611. 

Lori Gagliardi, CDA, RDA, RDH, EdD, is the current dental assistant appointee to CODA and serves on its Board as the Dental Assisting Commissioner. She and Patrice Renfrow, commission staff and acting Manager of Dental Assisting Education, will present an overview of the proposed changes to the accreditation standards for dental assisting education programs on Friday, October 19, 3:30 – 4:30 pm at the JW Marriott Hotel in San Francisco. The session will provide the opportunity for dental assistants to review information affecting academic programs and to provide feedback. The information shared will be considered by CODA in determining what will need to be implemented into dental assisting program curriculum across the country.

In January 2013, the CODA Dental Assistant Review Committee will consider all input, make a final decision on the proposed standards, and present the information to the commission in February for final approval. Changes could be implemented as soon as 2014, however that will be determined by the commission.

The Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)

CODA was established in 1975 by the American Dental Association (ADA), and is nationally recognized by the United States Department of Education to accredit dental and dental-related education programs conducted at the post-secondary level. CODA’s mission is to serve the public by establishing, maintaining, and applying standards that ensure the quality and continuous improvement of dental and dental-related education and reflect the evolving practice of dentistry.

Source: American Dental Association Web site. Accessed September 3, 2012.

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