Nevada Dental Hygienists Association puts forth bill for dental assistant education and accountability
The Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association has put forth AB 324 to the Nevada Legislature, which would require all dental assistants in Nevada to have specific education and accountability in radiation safety and infection control.
By Shari Peterson, RDH, M.Ed.
Legislative Chair, Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association.
The Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association has put forth AB 324 to the Nevada Legislature, which would require all dental assistants in Nevada to have specific education and accountability in radiation safety and infection control. The bill asks for dental assistants to obtain and maintain CPR certification, and also to successfully pass a jurisprudence test on the Nevada Dental Practice Act. Additionally, the bill would allow for registration of dental assistants who have obtained their CDA. The bill directs the Nevada State Board of Dental Examiners to separate the duties delegable to dental assistants and registered dental assistants.
Dental assistants and dental assisting educators asked for the assistance of the Nevada Dental Hygienists’ Association in helping move forward education and accountability requirements, and more specifically registration of dental assistants in Nevada. Because the ADAA is not formally active, and because there is a low percentage of CDAs in Nevada, they needed the assistance of the NDHA to advocate on behalf of dental assistants and the public.
The issue is really a matter of social responsibility and patient protection from within the profession. Nevada has no formal education or accountability requirements for dental assistants. Dental assistants can be trained on the job, so there is a lack of incentive to obtain formal dental assisting education. Of the approximately 12 recognized dental assisting programs in Nevada, only two are accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation — College of Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows Community College. Some dentists even offer 10-week training programs in their private practices as a formal education. Currently a dentist need only sign an attestation that his dental assistants have been trained in radiation safety. A dental assistant can be trained in radiation safety and technique by a dentist, a hygienist, or a CDA through on-the-job training.
Residents of Nevada should be assured that those individuals who are working on them in the dental office have adequate education and understanding of their responsibilities. This includes all members of the dental team — dentist, hygienist, and assistant. Dental assistants are valuable members of the team and should be afforded the opportunity to be recognized for their level of knowledge through CDA achievement. This can provide greater assurance to Nevadans.
Editor's Note: Ms. Peterson's views and statements are not the views of the College of Southern Nevada.