Dental assistants are fixtures in most modern dental practices and play an important role in helping dentists and patients. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows eligible dental assistants to be recognized as Expanded Function Dental Assistants (EFDAs). EFDAs are permitted to conduct limited dental procedures on patients, in addition to the normal duties of assisting the dentist.
Pennsylvania Professional Qualifications
A dental assistant must be certified as an EFDA to practice as one. Applicants must meet three criteria. The first is being a graduate of a two- year college EFDA program, a graduate of an accredited dental hygiene school, or a graduate of an approved EFDA program from a dental assisting school. The second requirement is to properly file a certification application with the Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry. The third is to pass the board's written exam.
Allowed Professional Procedures
EFDAs are allowed to perform certain dental procedures, as per state law. In general, these allowed procedures are reversible, routine and low risk to the patient. Some of these procedures include the placing or removing of wedges, matrices and rubber dams. The EFDA can fill cavities and perform hygienic work such as polishing and administering fluoride treatments. Taking an impression or mold of the teeth for diagnostic purposes is also permitted.
Prohibited Professional Procedures
State law prohibits EFDAs from performing any type of surgical or cutting procedures, including drilling, or dispensing medication and writing prescriptions. The EFDA cannot administer or supervise the use of any kind of anesthesia, perform endodontic procedures or conduct any type of dental exam. Diagnoses and treatment plans are also prohibited.
Any allowable procedures must done under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. This means the dentist personally makes the diagnosis and authorizes the procedures. The dentist must physically remain in the facility while the procedures are being performed and must personally inspect and approve the EFDA's work before dismissing the patient. A holder of an EFDA certificate from another state is allowed to apply for reciprocity of their certificate from the Pennsylvania State Dental Board.
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