Dental Assistant Requirements: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Kentucky

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 dental assistant requirements.

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:


Illinois Dental Assistant Requirements

Three levels of Dental Assistants

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

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Illinois 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 Assistant Qualified in Expanded Functions

To perform expanded functions under the supervision of a licensed dentist in Illinois, a dental assistant must meet state requirements for each of the desired expanded functions, as outlined below.

To qualify to perform coronal scaling and intracoronal temporization of a tooth* under the supervision of a dentist, a dental assistant must:

  • Have at least 2,000 hours of direct clinical and patient care experience, AND
  • Successfully complete an approved coronal polishing course prior to taking coronal scaling course, AND
  • Successfully complete a structured training program in coronal scaling and intracoronal temporization of a tooth provided by an educational institution (such as a dental school or a dental hygiene or dental assisting program) or by a statewide dental or dental hygienist association approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) that includes the following:
    • minimum 16 hours of didactic and clinical manikin or human subject instruction covering specified content,
    • an outcome assessment examination that demonstrates competency,
    • completion of 6 full-mouth scaling procedures under the observation and with approval of the supervising dentist,
    • issuance of a certificate of completion (which must be kept on file at the dental office)

See the Illinois Dental Practice Act, Section 17, Paragraph 7, for additional requirements and conditions governing the performance of these functions by dental assistants.

Prescribed Duties of IL Dental Assistant

*The Illinois Legislature passed a law in the 2015 legislative session authorizing the performance of these functions by dental assistants meeting specified requirements; the Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation is in the process of developing rules to implement this new law.

Illinois Dental Practice Act

To place, carve and finish amalgam restorations; place, pack and finish composite restorations; and place interim restorations under the direct supervision of a dentist, a dental assistant must:

  • Have at least 4,000 hours of clinical patient care experience, AND
  • Pass approved coronal polishing course and approved dental sealants course (prior to taking restorative training program), AND
  • Successfully complete a structured training program meeting the requirements outlined in statute and provided by
    • an educational institution accredited by CODA, OR
    • a statewide dental association approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), AND
    • Maintain on file at the dental office the certificate of completion of the required training program, which must be made available to IDFPR upon request.

To perform coronal polishing, place pit and fissure sealants, monitor patients under nitrous oxide, or monitor patients under sedation, a dental assistant must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age AND
  • Complete 1,000 hours of clinical dental assisting experience OR
  • Complete a CODA-accredited dental assisting program OR
  • Hold a current national DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Certification, AND
  • Complete an Illinois Board-approved course relative to the expanded function in question, subject to specific didactic and clinical requirements OR
  • Provide proof of completion of an Illinois Board-approved dental assisting program that contained the expanded function in the curriculum.

Note: In addition to the above requirements, in order to monitor patients while nitrous oxide is being administered and to monitor patients under minimal, moderate, or deep sedation, or under general anesthesia, dental assistants must maintain basic life support certification intended for healthcare providers (BLS) that includes evaluation of hands-on skills and a written exam.

3. Expanded Functions Dental Assistant

To perform specified expanded functions in Illinois and hold oneself out as an Expanded Function Dental Assistant*, a dental assistant must complete required training in each of the allowed expanded functions.

To qualify, a dental assistant must:

  • Complete training the expanded functions from an approved continuing education sponsor OR
  • Complete training in the expanded functions from a dental assistant training program accredited by the Commission on Dental Ac­creditation OR
  • Complete a training course approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation AND
  • Complete and maintain Basic Life Support certification, proof of which must be kept on file with the supervising dentist.

*The Illinois Legislature passed a law in the 2017 legislative session authorizing the creation of Expanded Function Dental Assistants; the Illinois General Assembly further amended the law in 2018. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) is in the process of developing rules to implement this new law.

EFDA Law Rules

Information gathered from DaleFoundation.com


Indiana Dental Assistant Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in Indiana, a dental assistant must obtain a limited dental radiographic license from the Indiana State Department of Health/Division of Medical Radiology Services.

To obtain this license one must:

Apply to the Indiana State Department of Health/Division of Medical Radiology Services for a limited radiographic license.

Note: The Indiana State Department of Health also issues student dental radiography permits and provisional radiography permits.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in Indiana 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 except for radiography requirements.

Dental Assistant Qualified in Coronal Polishing

To qualify to polish the coronal surfaces of the teeth, a dental assistant must:

  • Be employed in a dental practice for a minimum of one year and complete an educational program approved by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry that includes the following instruction in coronal polishing:
  • 5 hours of didactic instruction meeting Board curriculum requirements
  • 2 hours of laboratory work
  • Performance of the task on five patients under the observation of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist
  • An affidavit certifying competency signed by the supervising dentist

OR

  • Graduate from an educational program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) that included instruction meeting the above requirements AND
  • Display certificate of completion of education program publicly in the dental office.

A dental assistant who has completed an out-of-state dental assisting program in applying medicaments for the control and prevention of dental caries must provide a syllabus of coursework successfully completed; coursework must be equal to or greater than that required by Indiana rules, or the dental assistant must complete laboratory and clinical requirements in Indiana and obtain a certificate of completion from an Indiana CODA-accredited or Board-approved program; the dental assistant must display CODA-accredited program diploma or certificate of completion from Board-approved course publicly in the dental office.

Dental Assistant Qualified in Applying Medicaments for the Control of Prevention of Dental Caries

To qualify to apply medicaments for the control or prevention of dental caries (i.e., apply topical fluoride), a dental assistant must:

  • Be employed in a dental practice for a minimum of one year and complete an educational program approved by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry that includes the following instruction in prevention of dental caries:
  • 9 hours of didactic instruction meeting Board curriculum requirements
  • 2 hours of laboratory work
  • Performance of the task on five patients under the observation of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist
  • An affidavit certifying competency signed by the supervising dentist

OR

  • Graduate from an educational program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) that included instruction meeting the above requirements AND
  • Display certificate of completion of education program publicly in the dental office

Dental Assitant Qualified in Administering Nitrous Oxide

To qualify to administer nitrous oxide, a dental assistant must:

  • Be employed in a dental practice for a minimum of one year OR graduate from a CODA-accredited educational program, AND
  • Complete a CODA-accredited course that includes the following:
    • 3 hours of didactic instruction meeting state curriculum requirements
    • Demonstration of clinical competence on at least five (5) patients under the direct supervision of a licensed Indiana dentist in good standing
    • An affidavit certifying competency signed by the supervising dentist AND
    • Display certificate of completion of education program publicly in the dental office

Indiana Board of Dentistry Statutes and Rules Indiana Administrative Code – Dental Assistants

Information gathered from DaleFoundation.org


Iowa Dental Assistant Requirements

Three levels of Dental Assistants

To expose radiographs in Iowa, a dental assistant must hold a current registration certificate and active radiography qualification issued by the Iowa Dental Board (IDB) and a dentist must provide general supervision.

To earn dental radiography qualification, one must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age AND
  • Be a Dental Assistant Trainee or Registered Dental Assistant with an active registration status OR
  • Be a graduate of an accredited dental assisting program OR
  • Be a nurse who holds an active Iowa nursing license AND
  • Provide proof of successful completion of an Iowa board-approved course of study in dental radiography within the two years prior to application AND
  • Provide proof that he or she successfully completed an Iowa Board-approved exam in the area of dental radiography (the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety [RHS] exam meets this requirement, if taken after January 1, 1986) AND
  • Apply to the IDB for Qualification in Dental Radiography.

Dental Assistant Trainees may also engage in on-the-job training in dental radiography pursuant to 650-22.3(136C,153). Trainees are all individuals who are engaging in on-the-job training to meet the requirements for registration and who are learning the necessary skills under the personal supervision of a licensed dentist.

Dental Assist Trainee

To qualify as a Dental Assistant Trainee in Iowa, one must:

  • Graduate from high school or equivalent, AND
  • Be 17 years of age or older, OR
  • Be enrolled in a cooperative education or work study program through an Iowa high school, AND
  • Apply to the IDB and receive a certificate of registration.

A dental assistant trainee must have certification of Dental Assistant Trainee status issued prior to beginning work as a dental assistant trainee.

Iowa Registered Dental Assistant

To qualify as a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) in Iowa, one must:

  • Work in a dental office for six months as a Dental Assistant Trainee (see requirements above), OR
  • If licensed out of state, have had at least six months of prior dental assisting experience under a licensed dentist within the past two years, OR
  • Graduate from an accredited dental assisting program approved by the IDB, AND
  • Successfully complete an Iowa Board-approved course of study in the areas of infection control, hazardous materials and jurisprudence; the course of study may be taken at an Iowa Board-approved, accredited dental assisting program or on the job using a curriculum approved by the board, AND
  • Successfully pass required examinations in infection control/hazardous materials and jurisprudence; examinations approved by the board are those administered by the board or the board’s approved testing centers, or the DANB Infection Control Exam (ICE) if taken after June 1, 1991 (the IDB Board may require applicants with exam scores older than five years to retest), AND
  • Hold a valid CPR card, AND
  • Apply to the IDB for registration as a dental assistant using IDB application forms, or apply online and receive a Certificate of Registration.

Basic, Certified Level 1, and Certified Level 2 Expanded Function Providers

To perform expanded functions, a registered dental must meet the education and training requirements set forth below.

  • To qualify for expanded function training, a dental assistant must be a graduate of a CODA-accredited dental assisting program, OR
  • hold current DANB certification, OR
  • have a minimum of one year of clinical practice as a registered dental assistant, OR
  • have a minimum of one years of clinical practice as a dental assistant in a state that does not require registration.

Basic Expanded Function Provider

A Registered Dental Assistant may qualify to perform select Level 1 expanded function procedures as a Basic Expanded Function Provider by completing a Board-approved training program. A dentist may delegate to an RDA only those Level 1 procedures for which the assistant has received the required expanded function training.

To qualify for expanded function training, a dental assistant must:

  • Be a graduate of a CODA-accredited dental assisting program OR
  • Hold current DANB certification OR
  • Have a minimum of one year of clinical practice as a registered dental assistant OR
  • Have a minimum of one year of clinical practice as a dental assistant in a state that does not require registration.

Certified Level 1 Provider

To qualify as a Certified Level 1 provider, a Registered Dental Assistant must complete a Board-approved training program in all Level 1 expanded functions and receive a certificate of completion.

To qualify for expanded function training, a dental assistant must:

  • Be a graduate of a CODA-accredited dental assisting program OR
  • Hold current DANB certification OR
  • Have a minimum of one year of clinical practice as a registered dental assistant OR
  • Have a minimum of one year of clinical practice as a dental assistant in a state that does not require registration.

Certified Level 2 Provider

To qualify as a Certified Level 2 Provider, a Registered Dental Assistant must:

Iowa Dental Board Fee Schedule

Iowa Dental Board

Information gathered from DaleFoundation.org


Kansas Dental Assistant Requirements

Two levels of Dental Assistants

There are no radiography requirements for dental assistants in the state of Kansas. All dental assistants may legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in the state of Kansas 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 Assistant with Expanded Duties Training

To perform expanded functions under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist in the state of Kansas, a dental assistant must become qualified as follows:

Coronal polishing: The dental assistant must undergo appropriate training by a Kansas licensed dentist.

Coronal scaling: The dental assistant must successfully complete a Kansas Board-approved course of instruction. The supervising dentist must verify proof of completion of required training and must report to the Kansas Board the name and practice location of each dental assistant who is performing coronal scaling by April 3, 2016, or within 30 days of the dental assistant first performing coronal scaling, whichever is later.

Assisting in the administration and monitoring of nitrous oxide and/or oxygen: The dental assistant must be certified in CPR and successfully complete a Kansas Board-approved course of instruction which includes 16 hours of instruction at a CODA-accredited teaching program which includes both didactic and clinical instruction in: (A) theory of pain control, (B) anatomy, (C) medical history, (D) pharmacology and (E) emergencies and complications.

Kansas Dental Board


Kentucky Dental Assistant Requirements

Two levels of Dental Assistants

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

  • Pass the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, OR
  • Successfully complete a CODA-approved course in radiation safety and technique, OR
  • Complete a six-hour Kentucky Board-approved course in dental radiography safety* AND complete one of the following:
    • A minimum of four hours of instruction in dental radiography technique while under the employment and supervision of the dentist in the office, OR
    • A four-hour course in radiography technique approved by the Kentucky Board of Dentistry.

*Note: The DALE Foundation’s DANB RHS Review course meets the six-hour radiography safety course requirement.

Dental Auxiliary

A dental auxiliary in the state of Kentucky 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.

Registered Dental Assistant

To be recognized as a registered dental assistant in Kentucky, a dental assistant must have current certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that meets or exceeds the guidelines of the American Heart Association (AHA).

In addition, the dental assistant’s employer dentist must do the following:

  • Register the dental assistant on his or her Application for Renewal of Dental Licensure
  • maintain a personnel file for the registered dental assistant containing the following:
    • a copy of proof of having current CPR certification
    • a copy of the certificates of completion of the Coronal Polishing, Radiation Safety, Radiation Techniques Course, and Starting IV Access Lines courses, if the dental assistant has completed these courses
    • the licensee’s statement attesting to the competency of the dental assistant in the procedures delegated the assistant from the Delegated Duties List.

Registered Dental Assistant Qualified in Coronal Polishing

To perform coronal polishing procedures under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist in the state of Kentucky, a registered dental assistant must:

  • Successfully complete an eight-hour course at a CODA-accredited institution, AND
  • Obtain a certificate of completion from the authorized institution, which the employer dentist shall retain in the employee’s personnel file

Registered Dental Assistant Qualified in IV Placement

To perform starting intravenous (IV) access lines under the direct supervision of a dentist holding a sedation or anesthesia permit, a registered dental assistant must:

  • Successfully complete a board-approved course in starting IV lines, AND
  • Submit documentation of course completion to the supervising dentist, who shall retain such documentation in the employee’s personnel file.

Kentucky Board of Dentistry

Information gathered from DaleFoundation.org


Dental Assistant Requirements in All 50 States

As you can see with the other states explored, requirements do vary greatly from one state to the next.

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 Daniel Frank from Pexels

Natalie Kaweckyj

Natalie Kaweckyj

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.