To become X-ray certified, a dental assistant must first obtain a certificate in radiology. In most states, this requires passing the Radiation Health and Safety Exam provided by the Dental Assisting National Board, Inc., the national certification board for dental assistants.
The RHS exam is one of the component tests of the National Entry Level Dental Assistant exam and the Certified Dental Assistant Exam. A dental assistant who has already passed the NELDA or the CDA exam is also X-ray certified and may operate and expose radiograph in participating states. An RHS exam can be taken separately to earn a knowledge-based competency certificate for radiology.
No eligibility requirement is needed to take the DANB RHS component exam, though candidates are expected to at least be enrolled in a dental assisting program or an on-the-job-trained dental assistant. Applicants must complete the application form accessible through the downloadable RHS Application Packet, submit the necessary documents and pay the exam fee. After processing the application, the DANB notifies the applicant about the schedule of the exam. The RHS application packet contains information on what to expect during and after the test.
As an alternative to a DANB RHS exam, some states, such as Maine, accept a transcript showing a certification of a dental radiography course from a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. In Kansas, all dental assistants can operate X-ray equipment even without a DANB certification as long as they are under the supervision of a licensed dentist.