Dental Assistant requirements for Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, and Nevada

By: Natalie Kaweckyj, LDA, RF, CDA, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, BA

One of the greatest challenges for current dental assistants is the portability of their profession across state lines.

With over fifty designations of dental assistants nationwide, no two designations are alike, nor are the requirements for becoming a dental assistant. Allowable duties, education, and continuing education requirements as well as state-specific credentials are all over the spectrum.

This series explores the requirements to become a dental assistant in each of the states, comparing and contrasting prerequisites and providing some useful sources for additional information. Information was obtained from each individual state dental practice act, individual state boards of dentistry or boards of dental examiners, and the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).

TABLE OF CONTENTS:


Mississippi Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Mississippi, a dental assistant must:

  • Hold a current national DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification, OR
  • Successfully complete a Mississippi Board-approved radiology seminar and exam within 90 days prior to application, OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program within 12 months prior to application, OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program more than 12 months prior to application for permit and provide sworn statements related to employment and administration of radiographs within the five-year period preceding application.

AND

  • Apply to the Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners for a radiology permit.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in the state of Mississippi may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.

All dental assistants involved in direct patient care must be certified in CPR (within 180 days of employment).  There are no other education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

Visit the Mississippi Board of Dentistry for more information.


Missouri Dental Assistant Requirements

There are no radiography requirements for dental assistants in the state of Missouri. All dental assistants may legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in the state of Missouri may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

A dental assistant or holder of DANB’s CDA certification may, under direct supervision, assist in the administration of and monitor nitrous oxide analgesia if he or she meets the following requirements and complete one of the following:

  • Successfully complete formal certified training in a course approved by the Missouri Dental Board AND
  • Pass an approved competency test regarding clinical and didactic training

OR

  • Submit proof to the Missouri Dental Board of having been certified in another state to assist the administration of and monitoring of nitrous oxide subsequent to equivalent training and testing

AND                   

  • Obtain a permit from the Missouri Dental Board

Expanded-Functions Dental Assistant

To perform expanded functions under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist in the state of Missouri, an expanded-functions dental assistant must hold an expanded functions permit from the Missouri Dental Board. Rules for E-FDAs.

To earn the expanded functions permit, one must complete one of the following:

  • Hold DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification and graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program in which competency testing in the appropriate expanded functions category* was completed, OR
  • Hold DANB CDA certification and complete a Missouri Dental Board-approved expanded functions training course, OR
  • Pass the Missouri Test of Basic Dental Assisting Skills (administered by DANB or another Missouri Dental Board-approved provider) and complete a Missouri Dental Board-approved expanded functions training course

AND

  • Hold current certification in the American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider (BLS), or an equivalent certification approved by the Missouri Dental Board
  • Submit proof of meeting requirements along with application form and established fee to the Missouri Dental Board

*Expanded functions permits are issued in five categories: Restorative I, Restorative II, Orthodontics, Fixed Prosthodontics, and Removable Prosthodontics.


Montana Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Montana, a dental assistant or dental auxiliary in the state of Montana must:

  • Successfully complete the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam. After successful completion of the RHS exam, DANB will issue the assistant a DANB RHS certificate of knowledge-based competence. Dental assistants are not legally allowed to expose radiographs in Montana until they receive a certificate from DANB, OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, OR
  • Be certified in dental radiography as a result of military experience.

To expose radiographs under the general supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental auxiliary must hold DANB’s CDA certification.

Note: Effective Jan. 1, 2016, radiology certification from other states will no longer be accepted, with the exception of a board-approved written examination. Dental auxiliaries who acquired radiology certification in other states and were employed as dental auxiliaries in Montana prior to Jan. 1, 2016, will be grandfathered.

Dental Auxiliary

A dental auxiliary in Montana may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. To qualify, one must:

  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, OR
  • Receive instruction and training by a licensed dentist, OR
  • Receive instruction and training in a Montana Board-approved continuing education course.

DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA)

To perform duties under the general supervision of a licensed dentist, a dental auxiliary must:

  • Hold DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification

Visit the Montana Board of Dentistry for more information.


Nebraska Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Nebraska, a dental assistant must:

Note: All dental assistants must be at least 18 years of age.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Nebraska may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the supervision of a licensed dentist. There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

Dental assistants who assist in the administration of general anesthesia, deep sedation, moderate sedation or minimal sedation must be currently certified in basic life support skills (BLS) or the equivalent. Dental assistants with current and valid certification for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) approved by the Nebraska Board of Dentistry may monitor nitrous oxide under indirect supervision of a licensed dentist.

Note: All dental assistants must be at least 18 years of age.

Dental Assistant Qualified in Coronal Polishing

To perform coronal polishing procedures under the indirect supervision of a licensed dentist in Nebraska, a dental assistant must:

OR

  • Complete one year (1,500 hours minimum) of clinical work experience as a dental assistant and a Nebraska Board-approved course in polishing procedures.

Licensed Dental Assistant

To qualify as a Licensed Dental Assistant** in Nebraska, a dental assistant must:

  • Hold a high school diploma (or equivalent)
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program

OR

A licensed dental assistant, upon completion of education and testing approved by the Board and with a permit from the department for the respective expanded scope function, may perform the following under indirect supervision:

  1. Take dental impressions for fixed prostheses;
  2. Take dental impressions and make minor adjustments for removable prostheses;
  3. Cement prefabricated fixed prostheses on primary teeth, and
  4. Monitor and administer nitrous oxide analgesia.

**Note: The Nebraska legislature passed a law in the 2017 legislative session authorizing the creation of the LDA and EFDA categories of dental assistant; the Nebraska Board of Dentistry is in the process of developing rules to regulate these categories.

Expanded Function Dental Assistant

To qualify as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant** in Nebraska, one must:

  • Hold a valid license as a Licensed Dental Assistant at the time of application; AND
  • Complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of work experience as a Licensed Dental Assistant; AND
  • Complete courses and exams in expanded function dental assisting as approved by the Board; AND
  • Pass a jurisprudence exam approved by the Board covering Nebraska statutes, rules and regulations governing dental assisting, AND
  • Apply to the Department of Health and Human Services for the applicable EFDA permit

An EFDA, upon completion of education and testing approved by the Board and with a permit from the department for the respective expanded function, may perform the following under indirect supervision: (1) Place restorative level one simple restorations (one surface), and (2) Place restorative level two complete restorations (multiple surfaces).

**Note: The Nebraska legislature passed a law in the 2017 legislative session authorizing the creation of the LDA and EFDA categories of dental assistant; the Nebraska Board of Dentistry is in the process of developing rules to regulate these categories.


Nevada Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Nevada, a dental assistant must meet the requirements:

  • The Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners does not license dental assistants in radiation health, safety, and administration. Rather, each licensed dentist must, with his or her application for license renewal, include a certified statement containing the name and position of each dental assistant who assists in radiographic procedures, the date each dental assistant began to assist in radiographic procedures, and a statement attesting that each such dental assistant is qualified to operate radiographic equipment and has received all of the following:
  • Adequate instruction in radiographic procedures, AND
  • Training in CPR at least every two years while employed, AND
  • A minimum of four hours of continuing education in infection control every two years while employed, AND
  • Before commencing performance of radiographic procedures, a copy of the Nevada statutes and regulations governing dentistry.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in the state of Nevada may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist. There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

A licensed dentist who owns a dental office or treatment facility must, on his or her application for license renewal, list the name and address of each dental assistant who assists in procedures for infection control, the date the dental assistant began to assist in infection control procedures, and a statement that each employee listed has received adequate instruction in infection control and is qualified to operate sterilization and other equipment, and to perform all other applicable activities, in compliance with CDC guidelines.


Dental Assistant Requirements in Other States

As you can see with the first twenty-nine states explored, requirements do vary greatly. To learn more about the specific requirements for other states, check out the following state comparisons.

Being credentialed in one state or being DANB certified as a CDA does assist in some cases. For the most up-to-date information (because it is forever changing), please visit the individual state regulating body.

Tune in next time for further exploration into more state requirements for dental assistants!

Natalie Kaweckyj, BA, LDA, CDA, RF, CDPMA, COA, COMSA, CPFDA, CRFDA, MADAA, is a senior moderator of the Dental Peeps Network and a past president of the ADAA.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels