Dental Assistants

A person shall not practice as a dental assistant in Iowa unless the person practicing under a current dental assistant trainee status or holds an active dental assistant registration. Please note: DANB (Dental Assisting National Board) certification does not authorize you to engage in the practice of dental assisting in Iowa unless you hold an active registration in Iowa.

“Dental assistant” means any person who, under the supervision of a dentist, performs any extraoral services including infection control or the use of hazardous materials or performs any intraoral services on patients. The term “dental assistant” does not include persons otherwise actively licensed in Iowa to practice dental hygiene or nursing who are engaged in the practice of said profession.There are two categories of dental assistants in Iowa: Dental Assistant Trainees and Registered Dental Assistants.

Dental Assistant Trainees
Registered Dental Assistants
Related Links

Applications for dental assistant trainee status, registration, and qualification may be submitted online here.



Dental Assistant Trainees

Dental assistant trainees are individuals who are employed in a dental office and training to be a dental assistant. Dental assistant trainees may perform most of the services of a registered dental assistant; however, dental assistant trainees must work under personal supervision. Trainees may also engage in on-the-job training in dental radiography if they are 18 years of age or older. Note: Dental assistant trainees are prohibited from training in or performing expanded functions.

“Personal supervision” for intraoral procedures means the dentist is physically present in the treatment room to oversee and direct all intraoral or chairside services of the dental assistant trainee. “Personal supervision” for extraoral procedures means a licensee or registrant is physically present in the treatment room to oversee and direct all extraoral services of the dental assistant trainee.

Dental assistant trainee status is valid for practice for twelve (12) months from the date of issuance. Dental assistant trainees must complete the requirements for registration in order to continue practicing beyond the expiration date of the trainee status. In order to become registered, dental assistant trainees need to successfully complete Board-approved examinations in the following areas:

  • Iowa jurisprudence.
  • Infection control and hazardous materials.
  • Dental radiography. This exam is only required if applying for a qualification in dental radiography. Radiography qualifications are limited those who apply for registration or hold an active Iowa nursing license.


Registered Dental Assistants

Following graduation from a CODA-accredited dental assistant program or having completed the minimum on-the-job training requirements, dental assistants must apply for registration in order to practice as a dental assistant in Iowa.  Registered dental assistants may practice under direct, general, or public health supervision. Note: In order for registered dental assistants or Iowa-licensed nurses to take dental radiographs (x-rays), they must hold a current qualification in dental radiography.

Types of Registration/Qualification

A certificate of registration will identify the type of registration a dental assistant has received. One of the following designations will appear on a dental assistant’s renewal card.

  • RDA - Registered Dental Assistant: Prohibited from taking dental radiographs (x-rays).
  • QDA - Qualified/Registered Dental Assistants: Allowed to take dental radiographs (x-rays).
  • XDA - Qualified/ Non-registered Dental Assistants: Allowed to take dental radiographs (x-rays).*

Levels of Supervision:

“Direct supervision” means that the dentist is present in the treatment facility, but it is not required that the dentist be physically present in the treatment room while the registered dental assistant is performing acts assigned by the dentist.

“General supervision” means that a dentist has examined the patient and has delegated the services to be provided by a registered dental assistant, which are limited to all extraoral duties, dental radiography, intraoral suctioning, and use of a curing light, intraoral digital imaging and intraoral camera. The dentist need not be present in the facility while these services are being provided.

“Personal supervision” for intraoral procedures means the dentist is physically present in the treatment room to oversee and direct all intraoral or chairside services of the dental assistant trainee. “Personal supervision” for extraoral procedures means a licensee or registrant is physically present in the treatment room to oversee and direct all extraoral services of the dental assistant trainee.

“Public health supervision” means all of the following:

      1.   The dentist authorizes and delegates the services provided by a registered dental assistant to a patient in a public health setting, with the exception that services may be rendered without the patients first being examined by a licensed dentist;
      2.   The dentist is not required to provide future dental treatment to patients served under public health supervision;
      3.   The dentist and the registered dental assistant have entered into a written supervision agreement that details the responsibilities of each licensee/registrant, as specified in subrule 20.15(2); and
      4.   The registered dental assistant has an active Iowa registration and a minimum of one year of clinical practice experience.

Requirements for Registration:

  • Minimum of six months as a dental assistant trainee or graduation from a CODA-accredited dental assistant program;
    • Out-of-state experience as a dental assistant may be applied towards the practice requirement if the applicant did not graduate from an accredited dental assistant program. Experience should be documented on Board forms.
  • Must be a high school graduate;
  • Must be at least 17 years of age;
  • Currently certified in CPR;
  • Successfully complete Board-approved examinations in the following:
    • Iowa jurisprudence.
    • Infection control and hazardous materials.
    • Dental radiography. This exam is only required if applying for a qualification in dental radiography. 

The Board accepts the DANB examinations in the areas of infection control and radiation safety for the purposes of registration and qualification as a dental assistant in Iowa.

*Note: Applicants for a radiography qualification without registration (XDA) are only required to successfully complete the examination in dental radiography. An Iowa nursing license covers the remaining scope of practice and the other exams are not required.


Related Links

Printed from the website on October 07, 2022 at 5:50pm.