Registered Dental Assistants


A "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.

Eligibility for Registration

To qualify to register as a dental assistant, a person must:

  1. Work in a dental office for six (6) months as a dental assistant trainee; or
  2. If a dental assistant has practiced out of state, have at least six (6) months of prior dental assisting experience under a licensed dentist within the past two (2) years; or
  3. Be a graduate of an accredited dental assisting program approved by the Board;
  4. Be a high school graduate or equivalent; and
  5. Be 17 years of age or older.

Types of registration

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 certificate of registration:

  • RDA - Registered Dental Assistant (Not qualified to take dental radiographs)
  • QDA - Qualified/Registered Dental Assistants (Qualified to take dental radiographs)
  • XDA - Qualified/ Non-registered Dental Assistants (Qualified to take dental radiographs, not registered; i.e. licensed nurse)

Examination Requirements

  • Within 12 months of employment, the dental assistant trainee is required to successfully complete a Board-approved course of study and examination in the areas of infection control, hazardous materials, and jurisprudence. The course of study may be taken at a Board-approved post-secondary school, or on the job using curriculum approved by the Board for such purpose. Evidence of meeting this requirement shall be submitted within 12 months by the employer dentist.

Jurisprudence examination
For information about where to go to take the jurisprudence examination follow this link to community college testing sites.

Application process

Completed Application Received & Reviewed

Applications are reviewed in the Board office in the order received. Priority of applications is assigned based on the date the application is received in the office and the date the office has a fully completed application. An application is not considered complete until all requested documentation has been received. Please allow sufficient time for processing of your application.  Paper applications may take several weeks longer to review and process.

To expedite processing of an application, be sure to include the required, nonrefundable fee, and submit all required documents and credentials. Each application has a checklist that details all required documents and credentials. Upon receipt, applications are reviewed for completeness. After reviewing each application, staff will notify the applicant about how to resolve any problems identified by the reviewers.  Correspondence, when possible, is forwarded by email.

PLEASE NOTE: Applications are considered active for only 180 days from the date the application is received in the Board office. If an applicant has not supplied all requested documentation within 180 days, a new application and fee must be submitted before a license will be issued. If the applicant does not meet the requirements for a license or permit, the application will be considered incomplete

To become a registered dental assistant, an individual must submit an application to the Board for review and approval. The application must meet the following requirements:

  1. Application completely filled out; all questions answered
  2. Application fee paid
  3. Applicant is a high school graduate
  4. Applicant is at least 17 years of age
  5. Qualifies based on one of the following:
    • Worked in a dental office as a dental assistant trainee for a minimum of six (6) months;
    • Have prior dental assisting experience w/licensed dentist, requires a minimum of six (6) months in the previous two (2) years; or
    • Be a graduate of accredited dental assisting program.
  6. Completed Course of study in Infection Control/Hazardous Waste using at least one (1) of the following:
    • Board-approved, accredited dental assisting program; or
    • On-the-job curriculum approved by Board.
  7. Completed Course of study in Jurisprudence using at least one (1) of the following:
    • Board-approved, accredited dental assisting program; or
    • On-the-job curriculum approved by Board.
  8. Passed Infection Control/Hazardous Materials exam (Board-approved examination or DANB examination after June 1991);
  9. Passed Jurisprudence examination (Board-approved examination); and
  10. Evidence of current CPR certification (sponsored by a nationally recognized provider).


View fee information for a permanent registration

How to Obtain an Application

Make application via the Online Services website.

Administrative Issuance of Registration or Referral to License/Registration Committee

If the final review of an application indicates no questions or concerns regarding the applicant's qualifications for registration, the executive director may authorize staff to administratively grant the registration.

The executive director may also refer the application to the License/Registration Committee for review and consideration for matters including, but not limited to, prior criminal history, chemical dependence, competency, physical or psychological illness, malpractice claims or settlements, or professional disciplinary history are relevant in determining the applicants’ qualifications for license, permit, or registration.

Following review and consideration of a referred application, the License Committee may, at its discretion:

  • Defer final action if there is a pending investigation or disciplinary action;
  • Request that the applicant appear for an interview;
  • Recommend issuance of the registration;
  • Recommend denial of the registration; or
  • Recommend issuing the registration under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.
  • Refer the registration application to the Board for review and consideration without recommendation.

Final Board Action on Committee Recommendation

Following review and consideration of an application referred by the License/Registration Committee the Board takes final action to:

  1. Authorize the issuance of the registration,
  2. Deny the issuance of the registration, or
  3. Authorize the issuance of the registration under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.

The Board may deny an application for registration for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to meet the requirements for the registration.
  2. Failure to provide accurate and truthful information, or the omission of material information.
  3. For any of the grounds for which registration may be revoked or suspended.

Denial of Licensure – Appeal Process

Prior to denial of registration, the Board issues a written Preliminary Notice of Denial that cites the factual basis for denying the application. An applicant who receives a Preliminary Notice of Denial may appeal the notice and request an appeal hearing. At the appeal hearing, the applicant has the burden to persuade the Board of their qualifications for registration. After the hearing, the Board may grant the registration, grant the registration with restrictions, or deny the registration. If an applicant does not appeal a Preliminary Notice of Denial, the denial automatically becomes final within 30 days of mailing the Preliminary Notice of Denial. Both the Preliminary Notice of Denial and Final Decision of the Board are public records.

Expanded functions training

Pursuant to IAC 650--Chapter 20, “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.


The registration of all dental assistants expires on August 31 of each odd-numbered year. Approximately 60 days prior to expiration of the license or permit, an notice for renewal will be forwarded to the email address of record.  To successfully renew registration, all dental assistants must complete the following:

  • Submit a timely and complete application for renewal (prior to the August 31 expiration date);
  • Pay the required renewal fee;
  • A statement confirming current certification in CPR from nationally-recognized course that includes a "hands-on" clinical component, including the date of expiration and acknowledging that proof of certification in CPR must be provided upon request;
  • If you practice in Iowa, provide the most recent date of training in the identification and reporting of child (if your practice treats children) and/or dependent adult abuse (if your practice treats adults); and
  • Obtain 20 credit hours of continuing education, unless you qualify for an exemption. Information about required continuing education hours for the purposes of renewal is available here.

At renewal, all dental assistants must submit a statement confirming current certification in CPR by a nationally recognized provider (i.e. American Heart Association, Red Cross). The Board only requires certification in adult basic CPR; the Board does not require dental assistants to complete “health care provider” certification. To be acceptable, CPR certification courses must include a "hands-on", clinical component.  The Board suggests that you schedule CPR recertification classes well in advance of the expiration date of your dental assistant registration. This may prevent possible delays when you renew your registration. Registrants may claim up to three (3) hours of continuing education per renewal period for CPR training.


A registrant who allows a registration to lapse by failing to renew may be reinstated at the discretion of the Board. To request reinstatement of a lapsed registration, the following information must be submitted to the Board office:

  1. A completed application for reinstatement of a lapsed registration;
  2. Written verification of any registrations held in other states;
  3. Reasons for seeking reinstatement and why the license was not maintained;
  4. A statement confirming current certification in CPR from nationally-recognized course that includes a "hands-on" clinical component, including the date of expiration and acknowledging that proof of certification in CPR must be provided upon request;
  5. Evidence of completion of a total of 20 hours of continuing education; and
  6. Payment of one past due renewal fee, plus the reinstatement application fee of $50 .

The Board may require a registrant applying for reinstatement to successfully complete an examination designated by the Board prior to reinstatement if necessary to ensure the registrant is able to practice with reasonable skill and safety. 

When the Board finds that a practitioner applying for reinstatement is, or has been, subject to disciplinary action taken against a registration held by the applicant in another state of the United States, District of Columbia, or territory, and the violations which resulted in such actions would also be grounds for discipline in Iowa, the Board may deny reinstatement of a in Iowa or may impose any applicable disciplinary sanctions as a condition of reinstatement.

To legally engage in the practice of dental assisting in Iowa, you must either be registered or be placed on a current dental assistant trainee status by the Iowa Dental Board.

Dental assistant trainees are 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. If you are working on trainee status you will receive verification from the Board office reflecting this. The trainee verification form should be posted in the office where the trainee is working.

Dental assistants should possess proof from the board office that they are either registered, or that they are working under a current trainee status. This information should be available at all practice locations.

You may verify the status of dental assistants at

Printed from the website on October 07, 2022 at 5:47pm.