On this page...
- Apply for a License, Registration or Permit Online
- Dental Assistant Registration
- List of Testing Sites
- Definition of Dental Assistant
- Scope of Practice for Registered Dental Assistants
Definition of Dental Assistant
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 in Iowa. 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.Back to top
Scope of Practice for Registered Dental Assistants
Dental assistants may perform services as delegated by a licensed dentist. The dentist assumes responsibility for the services provided by dental assistants under his or her supervision.
Services may be delegated to dental assistants who have been trained to perform those services. Delegation should be made in regards for the best interest of the patient. Services within the scope of practice include the following:
Placement and removal of dry socket medication;
Placement of periodontal dressings;
Testing pulp vitality;
Preliminary charting of existing dental restorations and teeth;
Expanded function procedures in accordance with 650—Chapter 23.
Prohibitions to Scope of Practice
Dental assistants are prohibited from performing certain procedures, which include the following, except when performed using toothbrush, floss, or rubber cup coronal polish.
Surgical procedures that contributes to irreversible alteration to the oral anatomy;
Administration of local anesthesia;
Removal of plaque, stain, or hard natural or synthetic material; and
Removal of calculus
For more information, refer to IAC 650--Chapter 20.Back to top
Dental Assistant Trainees
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.
Note: Radiography qualifications are limited those who apply for registration or hold an active Iowa nursing license.
Scope of Practice
Dental assistant trainees may perform most of the services included in the scope of practice of a registered dental assistant; however, dental assistant trainees must work under personal supervision.
“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.
Trainees may also engage in on-the-job training in dental radiography if they are 18 years of age or older. Dental assistant trainees may only take dental radiographs under personal supervision.
Note: Dental assistant trainees are prohibited from training in or performing expanded functions.Back to top
Eligibility for Registration
To qualify to register as a dental assistant, a person must have training and/or education as a dental assistant that meets one of the following:
- Work in a dental office as a dental assistant trainee; or
- Have previous experience as dental assistant in another state within the previous five (5) years; or
- Be a graduate of an accredited dental assisting program approved by the board;
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.Back to top
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.Back to top