Dental Assisting

Navigating Radiography Certifications for Dental Assistants in Canada


Radiography is a big deal when it comes to nailing down what’s going on in your mouth. In Canada, if you’re a dental assistant who wants to work with dental X-rays, there are some rules you have to follow and certifications to get. So, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of becoming certified to take X-rays here in the Great White North!

Persons That Can Take Radiographs in a Dental Office

So, taking radiographs in a dental office is a serious deal, and only certain folks with the right qualifications can do it.

Here’s the scoop: the Healing Arts Radiation Protection (HARP) Act and its regulations lay down the rules for who can be X-ray operators in a dental office. And it’s a dentist, who also takes on the role of the Radiation Protection Officer (RPO), that’s responsible for making sure all X-ray operators, including dental assistants, meet these qualifications. Safety first, peeps!

Dentists who are registered members of the College can take radiographs. If they also have a valid CT Member Authorization from the College, they’re good to go for CT scans too! But hey, for CT scans, they need to have onsite training in safely operating the dental CT scanner in that dental facility. Safety always comes first! 

Dental hygienists who are registered members of the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO) can work their magic with dental radiographic equipment (minus dental CT scanners, though).

Medical radiation technologists (MRT) registered with the College of Medical Radiation and Imaging Technologists of Ontario (CMRITO) are also on the team! They can take radiographs with dental radiographic equipment, and they can operate dental CT scanners too, but they need to do it under the supervision of a qualified dentist. Teamwork, people! 

And don’t forget our dental assistants and other staff! They can totally join the radiograph-taking party too, but they need to have successfully completed a HARP-approved course or program. No course, no radiographs! Simple as that! 

So, remember, it’s all about the right qualifications and following those HARP Act rules. Safety, qualifications, and teamwork make for a stellar radiography team in the dental office! 

Why Certification Matters

To keep everyone safe and maintain top-notch standards, the Canadian government and provincial dental regulatory bodies have set up certain educational requirements. Patient and radiographer safety is a core concern for everyone, which is why your local provincial authorities will want to ensure that anyone taking X-rays is qualified to do so. 

Provincial Variations

It’s essential to know that dental regulations can be different from one province to another in Canada. You see, every province has its very own dental regulatory authority. Yeah, they’re the ones in charge, keeping an eye on all those dental pros and making the rules for stuff like radiography certification.

So, if you’ve got dreams of becoming a dental assistant and rockin’ that radiography certification, you should do your homework! Look up the specific requirements set by that regulatory authority in the province where you want to work. It’s like knowing the secret password to unlock your dental assistant journey! 

Education and Training in X-Ray Safety

Alright, let’s get into the nitty-gritty! So, if you’re aiming for that radiography certification as a dental assistant, here’s the deal: you have to complete an educational program that the provincial dental regulatory body gives a thumbs-up to. They’re the ones who say, “Yep, this program is legit!”

And guess what? These programs cover all you need to know about dental radiography. We’re talking principles, safety rules, and how to handle all that fancy equipment. 

In Ontario, any course in dental radiography intending to have students take x-rays in a dental setting needs to gain approval from the Ministry of Health’s X-Ray Inspection Service (XRIS). The Director of the XRIS needs to officially approve a course or program of study in order for a student to be able to take x-rays after receiving their education.

How do you know if a course is HARP-Approved?

To find out if a course is ministry approved, you would have to send an email to They will send you a list of approved program providers in Ontario.  

Radiation Safety Training

In this training, they’ll teach you all the necessary guidelines to minimize radiation exposure. Plus, you’ll get the lowdown on how to rock those lead aprons and shields like a pro! And, of course, they’ll show you how to handle and store that X-ray equipment like a champ. It’s all about keeping everyone safe and sound in the dental office! 

Do you have to write a certification exam for HARP? 

To be able to take X-rays in a dental office, there is no province wide, standardized exam. Instead, each Ministry approved program provider will have a different way of testing its students to ensure they are component enough to be certified to take x-rays in a dental office. 

Our HARP1 Dental Radiography HARP-Approved course does require each student to take two exams. One theory exam, and one practical exam. This helps students reinforce what they learn conceptually and practically, giving them the best opportunity to succeed in the long term. 

Sufficient Proof of Qualification

You can flash your diploma, certificate, or transcript from a dental assisting course/program that’s HARP-approved. Yup, those are the ones given the thumbs-up by the Director of X-ray Safety at the Ministry of Health. If you need a list of schools offering these approved courses, just email the X-ray Inspection Service (XRIS) at They’ll hook you up!

If you took a dental assisting course/program that was approved by the HARP Commission before 2009, you’re good to go with that diploma or certificate.

Got that certificate from the RCDSO, confirming you rocked the x-ray safety update course between December 1983 and December 1986? Awesome! It counts!

Oh, and don’t forget that special HARP letter issued by the Director of X-ray Safety. It’s like the golden ticket saying you’re all set with a HARP-approved course/program.

Now, heads up! XRIS doesn’t give out HARP letters anymore, but if you already have one, it’s still legit proof for them. Just make sure not to lose it, because they won’t reissue it if it’s gone. But hey, no worries! You can still use any of the other acceptable documents from the list above.

Can I take X-Rays in Ontario if I am Certified in a Different Province?

If you’re coming from outside of Ontario with dental training, you’re not automatically good to go. You have to meet the same requirements as everyone else, which means successfully completing a HARP-approved course/program. But hey, if you think you might be eligible for exemptions based on your previous education, talk to one of the current HARP-approved schools. They’ll review your qualifications and let you know what’s what.

Just a heads up, an NDAEB Certificate doesn’t count as HARP Certification in Ontario. It’s a separate provincial thing.

To learn more about becoming a certified dental assistant, check out our blog on how dental assistant courses work here in Ontario.


Becoming a certified dental assistant in radiography up here in Canada is a real commitment to patient safety and giving it your all in oral healthcare. It’s like taking an oath to make those smiles shine! 

So, here’s the recipe for success: stick to those provincial regulations like glue, and complete all the necessary education and training! You’ll be a radiography wizard in no time, confidently handling that X-ray equipment like a pro. And guess what? You’ll be playing a major role in keeping those pearly whites healthy and happy all across the country! Don’t forget to check in with your provincial dental regulatory body for the latest and greatest guidelines on radiography certification.