What is DANB’s CPFDA® exam

The Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA®) Exam is the official title given by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Boards) upon successfully passing it. To earn the CPFDA® certification, you must be eligible under one of four pathways:

  • Pathway 1: Current CDA® certification and verification of competency (knowledge or performance-based) in each of the four CPFDA® functions;
  • Pathway 2: Graduate of a CODA-accredited dental assisting program and verification of competency (knowledge or performance-based) in each of the four CPFDA® functions;
  • Pathway 3: A former CDA® certification holder (whose certification lapsed no more than 2 years ago); at least 3,500 hours of work experience as a dental assistant completed in the last 4 years; and verification of competency (knowledge or performance-based) in each of the four CPFDA® functions;
  • Pathway 4: Current Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) license with a minimum of 3500 hours of work experience as a dental hygienist, acquired over the previous four years (employment must be verified by a licensed dentist) and current CPR, BLS or ACLS from a DANB-accepted provider.


Once you become a CPFDA® (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant™), you will be able to use the initials with your name. This will make your resume stand out from the crowd! See an example of how you can use the CPFDA® title. (Note that there are specific rules to follow, see the DANB’s guidelines for using the CDA® title.)

Do NOT confuse the CPFDA® exam with the CRFDA® exam. The “P” in CPFDA® stands for Preventative while the “R” in CRFDA® stands for Restorative.



CPFDA® exam components

DANB’s CPFDA® certification exam includes component exams on four preventive functions:

  • Coronal Polishing (CP) – 100 multiple-choice questions, 1 ½ hour testing time
  • Topical Fluoride Application (TF) – 80 multiple-choice questions, 1-hour testing time
  • Sealant Application (SE) – 80 multiple-choice questions, 1-hour testing time
  • Topical Anesthetics Application (TA) – 80 multiple-choice questions, 1-hour testing time

The four different exams can be scheduled at the same time, which will help you save some registration fee. You can also register for each component separately, as you get ready for the examination. You will be rewarded the Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant (CPFDA®) title by the DANB® only if you successfully pass the four examinations.

The tests are administered at computer centers located in many different parts of North America.

To read the full description about the 4 exam components and their content, please refer to the DANB’s blueprint.



Taking the CPFDA® exams

As mentioned above, there are four exams you need to pass. The steps to registering and taking the exams are as follows:

Step 1: Apply for an online account with the DANB

If you don’t have an account yet, select Create an account.

Click here to access DANB’s website and create an account

Step 2: Register

  • Go to the Dental Assisting National Boards website, danb.org.
  • Find the section called Become Certified (at the top) and select the section called Exams and Certification (on the left).
  • Select CPFDA®. You will be directed to this page that shows you how to apply for the CPFDA® examinations.
  • As you can see, you need to check your eligibility foremost. Depending on your education and work experience, you may or not be qualified to apply for the CPFDA® examination of the DANB.
  • If you are qualified, click on the area in Step Two, called DANB’s CPFDA Application Packet (PDF). You will then print the PDF and follow the instructions.

Step 3: Pay fees

  • If you sign up for the CPFDA® exam with the four components together, you pay $425. However, if you choose to take the 4 different components one by one, you will not get the bundles savings. You will pay $125 + $125 + $125 + $225 = $600

Just because there is saving does not mean that you have to choose the bundle. It is most important that you are ready to take the examination so you can pass on your first attempt!

Step 4: Book an exam date and center

  • Wait for your application to be processed. The DANB® will notify you with instructions to schedule an examination with the test-center.
  • Once you receive the confirmation email, click on the area called Already applied? View your upcoming exams in my account.
  • You will be redirected to PersonVue. Sign in and see the test you are eligible to take. Once you type in your zip code, you will find many options for you to take the dental assisting examinations.

Step 5: Take the exam(s)

  • You will receive an email confirmation from the PearsonVue prior to the examination. Make sure that your name is spelled
  • The facilitators at the test centers will walk you through the process of taking the CPFDA® examination.
  • Note that there are other test-takers at the centers.

Step 6: Wait for the exam results

  • You will be notified via email that you passed or failed the examination. The results may take 1-2 months to arrive.
  • Click here to access the DANB website and download the application directly from their website.


States recognizing the CPFDA® title

Not every state in the United States requires you to become a CPFDA® to start working as a dental assistant.

The DANB has a fantastic guideline for each state’s requirements for the dental assistants. There is a drop-down menu for each state. Find the page called Meet state requirements, and you will be able to read the comprehensive guideline.

However, the CPFDA® title may still be useful to provide extra credentials and enhance your chances of finding good employment. Also, if you are planning to move to a different state, the rules may be different. A CPFDA® title by the DANB® may help you transfer your license with less hassle.

Preparing for the CPFDA Board Exam



Preparing for DANB’s CPFDA® exam

Review the exam blueprint

Click here to be redirected to DANB’s Exam Blueprints page. DANB’s exam blueprints outline every topic found on a particular exam. Review each topic and identify the areas in which you need further study.

SmarterDA Dental Assisting Exam Prep Solution

We prepare you for the CPFDA® Dental Assisting Exam by providing all the 4 components you need. This smart bundle will save you a lot of money and time, by offering you the option to study on your phone or computer. You will get study guides, quizzes, and a mock exam!

We highly recommend our full Prep Course for DANB’s CPFDA® Exam bundle that includes also all 4 components:

However, if you are interested in just one of the components, we have them available separately as well:

Now get ready for the CPFDA® exams and become the professional you deserve to be!


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