Dental Assistants

A person may only practice as a dental assistant in Iowa if 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 permit you to practice as a dental assistant in Iowa unless you also 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.

Recent Rule Changes Related to Dental Assisting
Dental Assistant Trainees
Registered Dental Assistants
Related Links

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


Recent Rule Changes Related to Dental Assisting

At the October 2022 meeting, the Iowa Dental Board adopted rulemaking related to the practice of dental assisting in the state of Iowa.  The notification of adoption was published as ARC 6673C in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin on November 16, 2022.  The rule changes will be effective December 21, 2022.  To view the new requirements for registration and practice as a dental assistant, please review the following chapters in Iowa Administrative (IAC) 650:

Below is a summary of some of the changes enacted by the Board.

  • Updates to the definitions for supervision of dental assistants.
  • Elimination of a formal application required to practice as a dental assistant trainee.
  • Elimination of the age and high school diploma (or equivalent) requirements to practice as a dental assistant trainee or registered dental assistant.
  • Updated requirements to train in dental radiography.

Board staff drafted a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to assist licensees, registrants and trainees to better understand the rule changes.


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.

Effective December 21, 2022, dental assistant trainees hired in dental offices will no longer be required to submit a formal application for trainee status.  Rather, dental assistant trainees may train on the job while meeting the requirements for registration for 12 months from the first date of employment in accordance with Iowa Code section 153.39.  Dental assistant trainees are still required to practice under personal supervision.  The definition for personal supervision has been updated as indicated below.  The underlined sections of the definition are new.

“Personal supervision” means a licensee or registrant is physically present in the room to oversee and instruct all services of the dental assistant trainee as delegated by a licensed dentist.

Dental assistant trainee status is valid for practice for twelve (12) months from the first date of employment. 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

Dental assistants must apply for registration in order to practice as a dental assistant in Iowa following graduation from a CODA-accredited dental assistant program or having completed the minimum on-the-job training requirements.  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.

Effective December 21, 2022, dental assistant trainees will be eligible for registration when the dentist determines that the trainee has achieved clinical competency as a dental assistant and the trainee has completed all other requirements for registration.  Dental assistant trainees will no longer be required to practice for a minimum of six months before being eligible for registration.

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).*

*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.


Expanded Functions

Pursuant to IAC 650--Chapter 23, “a dentist may delegate an expanded function duty to a registered dental assistant if the assistant has completed Board-approved training....” Certain other restrictions and limitations apply.  Find additional information on expanded functions training here.


Related Links

Printed from the website on February 08, 2023 at 11:42am.