Continuing Education Guidelines

Iowa law requires members of every licensed or regulated health profession to obtain continuing education in order to renew the authorization to practice their profession.  (Iowa Code Chapter 272C)  Consequently, the Iowa Dental Board requires all licensed dentists, dental hygienists, and registered dental assistants to obtain continuing education. While the Board approves sponsors and courses, the Board does not offer any courses. You will need to contact the course sponsor for information on course registration, meeting times and locations, obtaining proof of attendance, and the number of hours awarded.

To find continuing education courses, you can ask to be placed on the mailing list for your professional association or ask to be on the mailing list for your local community college or dental college. A list of sponsors is also available here.

You can find all applications and forms associated with continuing education in the Applications and Forms section of the website under the section titled "Continuing Education Applications and Forms."

Extensions and Exemptions

Illness and disability
In cases of illness or disability, licensees and registrants can apply for an extension or exemption of the continuing education requirements. Written application must be made on forms approved by the Board. A licensed physician must also sign the form. The Board may require the applicant to make up a certain portion or all of the minimum education requirements.

Other extensions and exemptions
The Board also issues individual extensions or exemptions in the following cases:

  • The current biennium renewal period, or portion thereof, following original issuance of a license or registration (first renewal in Iowa);
  • Periods that a person serves honorably on active duty in military services;
  • Periods that a person practices the person’s profession in another state having a continuing education requirement, and the licensee or registrant meets all of the requirements of that state;
  • Periods that a person is a government employee working in the person’s licensed or registered specialty and assigned to duty outside the United States; and
  • Other periods of active practice and absence from the state approved by the Board

Inactive Status
Another way to renew your license and registration without obtaining continuing education is to place your license or registration on inactive status. Under inactive status, no continuing education is required, however, you must pay the renewal fee and submit an application for renewal. While on inactive status, you cannot practice dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting in Iowa until your license or registration is reactivated. Reactivation requires submitting an application and fee. You must also submit proof of having completed continuing education as required by rule. Contact the Board office for additional information about inactive status.

Course Topics

In order for subject matter to be acceptable, it must meet the guidelines as established in IAC 650--Chapter 25.  Courses that are approved for dentists and hygienists are also approved for dental assistants.   Licensees and registrants may only participate in clinical, "hands-on" portions of continuing education courses that fall within their scope of practice.

650—25.5(153) Acceptable programs and activities.

      25.5(1) A continuing education activity shall be acceptable and not require board approval if it meets the following criteria:
      a.   It constitutes an organized program of learning (including a workshop or symposium) which contributes directly to the professional competency of the licensee or registrant and is of value to dentistry and applicable to oral health care; and
      b.   It pertains to common subjects or other subject matters which relate to the practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting which are intended to refresh and review, or update knowledge of new or existing concepts and techniques, and enhance the dental health of the public; and
      c.   It is conducted by individuals who have sufficient special education, training and experience to be considered experts concerning the subject matter of the program. The program must include a written outline or manual that substantively pertains to the subject matter of the program.

      25.5(2) Types of activities acceptable for continuing dental education credit may include:
      a.   A dental science course that includes topics which address the clinical practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, dental assisting and dental public health.
      b.   Courses in record keeping, medical conditions which may have an effect on oral health, ergonomics related to clinical practice, HIPAA, risk management, sexual boundaries, communication with patients, OSHA regulations, and the discontinuation of practice related to the transition of patient care and patient records.
      c.   Sessions attended at a multiday convention-type meeting. A multiday convention-type meeting is held at a national, state, or regional level and involves a variety of concurrent educational experiences directly related to the practice of dentistry.
      d.   Postgraduate study relating to health sciences.
      e.   Successful completion of a recognized specialty examination or the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) examination.
      f.    Self-study activities.
      g.   Original presentation of continuing dental education courses.
      h.   Publication of scientific articles in professional journals related to dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting.
      i.    Delivery of volunteer dental services without compensation through a free clinic, the purpose of which is the delivery of health care services to low-income or underserved individuals.

      25.5(3) Credit may be given for other continuing education activities upon request and approval by the board.

[ARC 3489C, IAB 12/6/17, effective 1/10/18; ARC 5318C, IAB 12/16/20, effective 1/20/21]

650—25.6(153) Unacceptable programs and activities.

      25.6(1) Unacceptable subject matter and activity types include, but are not limited to, personal development, business aspects of practice, business strategy, financial management, marketing, sales, practice growth, personnel management, insurance, and collective bargaining. While desirable, those subjects and activities are not applicable to dental skills, knowledge, and competence. Therefore, such courses will receive no credit toward renewal. The board may deny credit for any course.

      25.6(2) Inquiries relating to acceptability of continuing dental education activities, approval of sponsors, or exemptions should be directed to Advisory Committee on Continuing Dental Education, Iowa Dental Board, 400 S.W. 8th Street, Suite D, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-4687.

[ARC 3489C, IAB 12/6/17, effective 1/10/18; ARC 5318C, IAB 12/16/20, effective 1/20/21]

While some of these courses may be desirable, subjects that do not directly relate to dental skills, knowledge, or competence, are ineligible for credit for renewal of a license or registration. 

You should also note that information listed on this web site refers only to the requirements of the Iowa Dental Board for license or registration renewal. You may have different requirements to renew specialty certification, national certification, or to meet other federal requirements. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires dental employees to complete at least one hour yearly in an OSHA update course, or as soon as possible when there are changes in procedures or job assignments.

Hours Awarded

The number of hours awarded for each course depends on the length of the course. For example, participants at a three hour course usually receive three hours of credit. This may vary, however, if portions of the course are not eligible for credit. For example, a four hour course that discussed patient communication skills (an acceptable topic) for two hours and covered personnel management (a topic ineligible for continuing education credit for the purposes of renewal) for the remainder of the time would receive only two hours of credit. In all cases, the course sponsor should provide you with proof of attendance that indicates the number of continuing education credit hours awarded. 

The Board has established certain limits on the number of hours awarded for various activities. Keep these points in mind when calculating the number of hours you have earned each biennium.

  • Attendance at convention-type meetings (like the annual session convention held every May or the ADA annual meeting) is awarded 1.5 hours of credit per day, with a maximum of six hours per biennium. The hours of credit are for registration and attendance at the meeting, additional credit can be claimed for attending the continuing education courses offered at the meeting.
  • Four hours of credit is allowed for presenting an original table clinic at a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • Two hours of credit is awarded for attendance at the table clinic session of a convention meeting, as verified by the sponsor.
  • 15 hours of credit per semester is awarded for postgraduate study relating to health sciences.
  • 15 hours of credit is awarded for successful completion of the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) for dental assistants, or completing a recognized specialty exam.
  • Self-study or home study activities including television viewing, video programs, correspondence work, or computer programs, are limited to a maximum of 12 hours per biennium. You cannot, however, obtain abuse training from an out-of-state provider. These courses must cover the specific requirements of Iowa law.
  • Original presentation of continuing dental education credit shall result in credit double that what the participant receives. Credit is not awarded for repeating presentations, or for presentations that are part of normal teaching or academic duties.
  • Publications of scientific articles in professional journals related to dentistry, dental hygiene, or dental assisting shall result in a maximum of five hours per article, maximum of 20 hours per biennium.
  • Duplicate credit cannot be claimed for completing the same course in a biennium.

Reporting Continuing Education

Continuing education is reported at the time of license or registration renewal. Approximately 60 days before your license or registration expires, you will be sent an email to your email address of record, notifying you about renewal. As part of the renewal, you must document the number of continuing education hours earned, and the dates that you took mandatory abuse training, unless you qualify for an exemption or extension. In addition, you must provide the expiration date of your current CPR certification.  A copy of your CPR card must be provided to the Board upon request.

It is important that you maintain a file of all continuing education courses attended. Board rules require that you maintain proof of attendance for four years after the year of attendance. The Board routinely audits renewals and can ask you to show proof of all hours claimed for renewal. If your renewal is selected for audit, you must provide copies of certificates showing the continuing education activity attended and the number of hours awarded. Failure to document enough continuing education hours could result in possible disciplinary action of your license or registration. If you lose copies of your proof of attendance forms, you should contact the course sponsor(s) for duplicate copies.

Mandatory Reporting

By law, all health care providers in Iowa are mandatory reporters of suspected cases of child abuse or dependent adult abuse. State law also requires that all health care providers receive mandatory training identifying and reporting cases of suspected abuse. If your practice treats children, you must obtain the training in identification and reporting of child abuse. If your practice treats adults, you must obtain training in identification and reporting of dependent adult abuse. If your practice treats both children and adults, you must obtain both types of training. Training can be obtained through separate classes or one combined class that covers both topics.

The mandatory training is required within six months of initial practice in Iowa, and every three years* thereafter. Continuing education hours are also awarded for completing the training. You may claim two hours of continuing education credit for each section of the core training and one hour of continuing education for each section of the recertification training. 

The Dental Board does not offer or approve the mandatory training courses. Effective July 1, 2019, the Department of Human Services (DHS) is the only agency approved to provide this training to Iowa licensees and registrants. 

*Training completed prior to July 1, 2019 is valid for five years.  When the new DHS training is completed, recertification is required every three years for all licensees and registrants who practice in Iowa.


Board rules require all licensees and registered dental assistants to show proof of current certification in CPR in order to renew. Certification should be obtained through a “nationally-recognized course,” such as the Red Cross or American Heart Association courses. Dentists with general anesthesia or moderate sedation permits are required to have current Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification, or Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) in conjunction with their sedation permit. To be eligible, CPR certification courses must include a "hands-on," clinical component.  A CPR course may include an online component provided there is an in-person portion prior to the certification being issued.

You are required to maintain current CPR certification for each year that you maintain your license or registration. Some courses are valid for one year, while others have a two-year renewal cycle. Pay attention to the expiration date on your CPR card and make sure you renew on time. CPR requires practice in order to maintain your skills, so stay current. You may claim up to three hours of continuing education credit each biennium for taking a CPR course.

Printed from the website on May 19, 2022 at 3:53pm.