Dental Assistant requirements for Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan & Minnesota

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 state, 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:

Louisiana Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Louisiana, a dental assistant must complete a course in x-ray function and safety approved by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry within six (6) months after employment by a licensed dentist and shall perform dental x-ray functions solely under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist who is on the premises of the dental office at the time.

Two levels of Dental Assistants in Louisiana

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in the state of Louisiana 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.

Expanded Duty Dental Assistant

To perform expanded functions under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist in the state of Louisiana, a dental assistant must earn status as an Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA). To qualify, one must:

  • Complete an expanded duty dental assisting program approved by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry (LSBD), OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, providing documentation that training was provided in all functions which EDDAs are allowed to perform (If a dental assistant’s training is deemed inadequate, the assistant must undergo remediation in a Louisiana board-approved program), AND
  • Complete a Louisiana State Board of Dentistry-approved radiography course (see “Radiography Requirements” above), AND
  • Hold current approved BLS certification, AND
  • Apply to the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry for confirmation of EDDA certification.

The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry only recognizes the Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA) certificate earned through the EDDA course taught at the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Dentistry, the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) and Southern University at Shreveport.

Note: A dental assistant who has been employed by a licensed, practicing dentist and has worked as a dental assistant prior to July 30, 1992, may continue performing the following expanded duties (under the direct, on-premises supervision of the dentist) without registering as an EDDA:    

  • Place and remove retraction cords;
  • Apply cavity liners, excluding capping of exposed pulpal tissue;
  • Place and remove periodontal dressings;
  • Place, wedge or remove matrices for restoration by the dentist.

Additional resources:


Maine Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Maine, under the general supervision of a licensed dentist or independent practice dental hygienist, an individual must be licensed as a Dental Radiographer by the Maine Board of Dental Practice (MBDP).

To qualify for a license, an individual must:

Two levels of Dental Assistants in Maine:

Unlicensed person

A dentist in Maine may delegate to an unlicensed individual, basic supportive dental procedures as specified by board statute, performed under the supervision of the licensed dentist. If the unlicensed person has successfully passed a certification examination administered by a national dental assisting board (such as DANB’s CDA certification exam), the dentist may delegate to that unlicensed person additional activities, as long as these activities are performed under the dentist’s general supervision.

Dentists must ensure that all dental personnel complete Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) certification and maintain current BLS certification when utilizing, administering, or monitoring local anesthesia, nitrous oxide analgesia, minimal sedation, moderate sedation, deep sedation, or general anesthesia.

Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA)

To perform expanded functions under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist, an individual must earn status as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA). To qualify, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age AND
  • Hold current CPR certification AND
  • Pass the jurisprudence exam administered by the Maine Board of Dental Practice with a grade of 90 percent AND
  • Hold a high school diploma or its equivalent AND
  • Hold current DANB CDA certification or hold an active dental hygiene license in good standing under the laws of Maine or another U.S. state or a Canadian province, AND
  •  Successfully complete training in a school or program in expanded function dental assisting approved by the Maine Board of Dental Practice, AND
  • Submit an application and pay applicable fee to the Maine Board of Dental Practice for EFDA licensure;

OR

To qualify for licensure by endorsement, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age AND
  • Provide verification of current certification in CPR, AND
  • Provide evidence of holding a substantially equivalent license in another U.S. state or a Canadian province, including verification of all licenses in good standing under which the applicant practiced in the three years preceding application, documentation of the laws and rules of all jurisdictions in which the applicant practiced during the three years preceding application, and a resume/curriculum vitae describing practice during the three years preceding application,

OR

  • Provide evidence of substantially similar qualifications, including all application materials required for initial licensure as an EFDA (see EFDA licensure requirements above), AND
  • Submit an application, along with all required materials, and pay applicable fee to the Maine Board of Dental Practice.

Additional resources:


Maryland Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Maryland, a dental assistant in Maryland must be state certified as a Dental Radiation Technologist in order to operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures. This must be performed under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. To obtain this state certification, one must:

Note: An individual holding an active radiology license or certification in another state may apply for Maryland certification if he or she has engaged in practicing dental radiation technology for at least 150 hours in the three years preceding application and meets any ADA or federal requirements. In addition, beginning in 2011, all Dental Radiation Technologists seeking to renew or reinstate their certificates shall have completed a two-hour, Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners-approved course in infection control. Bias Training for 2023

Three levels of Dental Assistants in Maryland:

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Maryland 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 working under the general supervision for a sealant program must do all of the following:

  • Maintain American Heart Association Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) OR American Red Cross CPR for Professional Rescuers;
  • Have at least 400 hours of dental assisting clinical practice in dental patient care;
  • Successfully complete a Board-approved course of at least two hours in infection control with OSHA protocol, or be Qualified in General Duties or Orthodontic Duties (see requirements below), or hold current DANB CDA or COA certification;
  • Enter into a written agreement with the supervising dentist setting forth the terms and conditions of practice under general supervision;

Dental Assistant Qualified in General Duties

To perform expanded functions in Maryland, a dental assistant must register as a Dental Assistant Qualified in General Duties. To qualify one must:

Note: While not required by law, it is recommended that a Dental Assistant Qualified in General Duties also earn status as a Dental Radiation Technologist (see requirements above).

Dental Assistant Qualified in Orthodontics

To perform orthodontic functions in the state of Maryland, a dental assistant must register as a Dental Assistant Qualified in Orthodontics. To qualify, one must:

Additional resources:


Massachusetts Dental Assistant Requirements

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

  • Be a Dental Assistant Trained on the Job (OJT), AND
  • Complete a course in radiological techniques and safeguards, AND
  • Pass the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam or other exam approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry, within one year of the course completion,

OR

  • Be a Massachusetts Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA), Certified Assistant (CA), or Formally Trained Dental Assistant (FTDA) [see requirements below], AND
  • Successfully complete a course with a curriculum that complies with Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) standards for radiological techniques and safeguards in dentistry.

Four levels of Dental Assistants in Massachusetts:

Dental Assistant Trained on the Job (OJT)

To qualify as a Dental Assistant Trained on the Job (OJT), one must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older, of good moral character, and not licensed as a dentist or dental hygienist, AND
  • Complete a course in CDC guidelines, AND   
  • Hold current certification in CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer from the American Red Cross or Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) from the American Heart Association, AND
  • Apply to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry for licensure, AND
  • Take and pass the Massachusetts Board’s ethics and jurisprudence exam. To request a copy of the exam, send an email to dentistry.admin@state.ma.us; a copy of the exam will be sent to you as an email attachment. 

A person who is at least 18 years of age or older, who has not been previously licensed or registered as a dentist, dental hygienist or dental assistant and who is not in violation of any rule or regulation adopted by the board may practice as a dental assistant under the supervision of a Massachusetts licensed dentist without being registered by the Board for a preliminary, one-time period of up to six consecutive months to commence from the beginning of the initial period of on-the-job training.

Prior to commencement of unlicensed on-the-job training, the prospective dental assistant must complete a course in CDC Guidelines and must notify the Board of his or her intent to commence such training on a form prescribed by the Board and submit the following documentation to the Board:

  • A complete, accurate, signed, and notarized notice of intent;
  • Attestation that the person named in the notice of intent has never practiced or been licensed as a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant;
  • Certification by the supervising dentist that such dentist is licensed to practice dentistry, is responsible for supervising the person named in the notice of intent, has verified that the person has completed education in CDC Guidelines, and is not in violation of any rule or regulation adopted by the Board;
  • Date when the six-month non-licensed on-the-job training period will start.

Formally Trained Dental Assistant (FTDA)

To qualify as a Formally Trained Dental Assistant (FTDA), one must:

  • Be 18 years of age and of good moral character, AND
  • Successfully complete a dental assisting program accredited by CODA or authorized, approved, accredited, licensed or certified by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE), or the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) or complete a state-approved vocational dental assisting program, AND
  • Hold current certification in CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer from the American Red Cross or Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) from the American Heart Association, AND
  • Apply to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry for licensure, AND
  • Take and pass the Massachusetts Board’s ethics and jurisprudence exam. To request a copy of the exam, send an email to dentistry.admin@state.ma.us; a copy of the exam will be sent to you as an email attachment. 

Certified Assistant

To qualify as a Certified Assistant (CA), one must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and of good moral character, AND
  • Hold any current national certification from DANB (CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA) or certification from another Board-approved certifying body at the time of registration, AND
  • Hold current certification in CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer from the American Red Cross or Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) from the American Heart Association, AND
  • Apply to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry for licensure, AND
  • Take and pass the Massachusetts Board’s ethics and jurisprudence exam. To request a copy of the exam, send an email to dentistry.admin@state.ma.us; a copy of the exam will be sent to you as an email attachment. 

Expanded Functions Dental Assistant

To qualify as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant (EFDA), one must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older and of good moral character, AND
  • Hold any current national DANB certification (CDA, COA, CPFDA or CRFDA) or certification from another Board-approved certifying body at the time of registration, AND
  • Complete a formal program in the Massachusetts delegable expanded functions at a CODA-accredited program, AND
  • Hold current certification in CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer from the American Red Cross or Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers (BLS) from the American Heart Association, AND
  • Apply to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry for licensure, AND
  • Take and pass the Massachusetts Board’s ethics and jurisprudence exam. To request a copy of the exam, send an email to dentistry.admin@state.ma.us; a copy of the exam will be sent to you as an email attachment. 

Additional resources:


Michigan Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Michigan, a dental assistant must successfully complete a course in dental radiography that is substantially equivalent to a course taught in a CODA-accredited program.

Two levels of Dental Assistants in Michigan:

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Michigan may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act and administrative rules under the direct or general supervision of a licensed dentist. There are no other education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting, except for the aforementioned training required to operate dental radiography equipment (see above).

Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

To become licensed as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) in Michigan, one must:

  • Receive a degree or certificate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program or a school of dental assisting meeting Michigan Board of Dentistry requirements, which includes required instruction in Michigan expanded functions*, AND
  • Pass the Michigan board comprehensive and clinical exam or pass an equivalent exam in another state (proof of out-of-state licensure required), AND
  • Complete the fingerprinting/criminal background check process, AND
  • Apply for a license to the Michigan Board of Dentistry. RDA Licensing Guide

Beginning January 1, 2022, complete training in identifying victims of human trafficking in accordance with standards set forth in the Michigan Administrative Code.

*Note: Individuals who earned the RDA credential prior to March 22, 2004, must complete additional expanded functions training courses before performing specified expanded functions.

Additional resources:


Minnesota Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Minnesota, a dental assistant must be a Licensed Dental Assistant or hold a limited-license permit. To receive a limited-license permit and perform radiography procedures under the general supervision of a dentist, dental assistants must:

  • Have completed education equal to or greater than that required of a Minnesota Licensed Dental Assistant (LDA)
  • Be currently qualified in Minnesota in an allied health profession, AND
  • Successfully complete a Board-approved course in dental radiography equivalent to a course offered in a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, AND
  • Pass the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) Exam, AND
  • Submit an application to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry and pay the accompanying fee.

Two levels of Dental Assistants in Minnesota:

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Minnesota may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the supervision of a licensed dentist. The dentist is responsible for ensuring that the assistant:

  • Completes and maintains consecutive and current CPR certification, AND
  • Complies with the most current infection control guidelines as specified in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

Licensed Dental Assistant

To earn status as a Licensed Dental Assistant in Minnesota, dental assistants must:

Licensed Dental Assistant Licensure Packet

All licensed dental assistants must maintain a consecutive and current certificate in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) at the BLS level.

Note: A dental assistant who received and maintained registration in MN prior to Jan. 1, 2010, can continue to practice as a licensed dental assistant without completing any further requirements. The licensed dental assistant must submit the fee for an original license to the MN board at the time of renewal.

To perform restorative procedures limited to placing, contouring and adjusting amalgam restorations, glass ionomers, and supragingival composite restorations (class I, II and V) where the margins are entirely within the enamel, and adapting and cementing stainless steel crowns, a Licensed Dental Assistant must have completed a MN Board of Dentistry-approved course in these functions and have submitted proof of completion to the MN Board of Dentistry.

Additional resources:

Dental Assistant Requirements for Every State

As you can see with the first twenty-four states explored, requirements do vary greatly from one state to the next. To learn more about the specific requirements for each state, 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 Evelina Zhu from Pexels