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Update on legislative and regulatory changes for dental assistants

July 22, 2009
At the Professional Dental Assisting (PDA) conference held in June in Plano, Texas, Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Executive Director Cindy Durley highlighted recent state legislative and regulatory changes for dental assistants.
At the Professional Dental Assisting (PDA) conference held in June in Plano, Texas, Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Executive Director Cindy Durley highlighted recent state legislative and regulatory changes for dental assistants. More than 70 dental assistants from across the United States attended PDA, held in conjunction with the Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures (OSAP), for the opportunity to develop expertise in infection control, network with professional dental assisting peers, and learn about legislative developments and other topics of professional interest.For those dental assistants not able to attend the PDA conference, and for interested parties within the dental health-care community, DANB has compiled the legislative information presented by Durley at the conference. With the spring state legislative sessions wrapping up, now is a great time to review advancements in the dental assisting profession achieved during the session. Check for legislative and regulatory changes that could impact your career in the coming year.The regulations committee of the Alaska Board of Dental Examiners continues to draft rules for coronal polishing certificates and restorative functions certificates to qualified dental auxiliaries.In May, a public hearing was held in Arkansas for Article XVII of the Dental Practice Act for dental assisting functions. Changes to the article include an additional permit category for sedation monitoring, which will become effective Oct. 1, 2009. Holding the DANB CDA Certification, along with meeting additional requirements, will be one of the ways to qualify for the sedation-monitoring permit.Effective in January 2010, there will be changes to regulations in California for dental assistants, registered dental assistants, and registered dental assistants in expanded functions. New licensure categories for an orthodontic assistant and a dental sedation assistant will also become operative next year.In January, the District of Columbia Board of Dentistry approved revised municipal regulations defining two levels of dental auxiliaries and the corresponding delegable duties: dental auxiliary and dental auxiliary qualified in expanded functions. In addition, the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam is now one way to qualify to perform dental radiologic procedures. Previously, D.C. did not regulate dental assistants. While the allowable functions for dental assistants in Florida have not changed, as of May the DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Certification was removed as a pathway to the Expanded Functions Dental Assistant (EFDA). Dental assistants who earned the CDA prior to the effective date of this rule are "grandfathered in" and qualify as EFDAs in Florida.At the end of July, an ad hoc committee of the Idaho State Board of Dentistry will make recommendations to the full board about changes to dental assisting regulations. In 2008, a law was passed in the Indiana legislature that recognized dental assistants for the first time. The law defines dental assistant, dental assistant qualified in coronal polishing, and dental assistant qualified in fluoride administration. The Indiana State Board of Dentististry is currently drafting rules to implement changes to the Dental Practice Act — preliminarily, dental assistants must complete an Indiana Board-approved course for both of the expanded duties designations.In both Massachusetts and Minnesota, legislation was passed requiring all dental assistants to be registered. Minnesota requires the CDA as the baseline for all dental assistants. Because Massachusetts already recognized the CDA as the requirement for the EFDA, the Board of Registration in Dentistry will determine another baseline requirement for the Registered Dental Assistant (RDA). In dental hygiene news, Minnesota passed legislation in May allowing mid-level oral health providers to become licensed in two categories — dental therapist and advanced dental therapist.In Nebraska, legislation providing rules and regulations for dental assistants garnered much attention during the spring legislative session. LB 542 focused on allowing the Department of Health and Human Services, with the recommendation of the Nebraska Board of Dentistry, to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations providing for the education, preparation, training, and competency assessment for dental assistants. The bill was heavily lobbied, and ended in a filibuster in May. The bill will stay on file for debate next year.House Bill 1176 was passed in North Dakota in April. The bill defines dental assistants, qualified dental assistants, and registered dental assistants, and amends the renewal requirements for registered dental assistants.Dental assistants in Pennsylvania are now required to pass the DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam in order to meet state requirements to perform dental radiological procedures, effective June 2009.In June, the governor of Texas signed Senate Bill 455, which requires that dental assistants must hold a certificate for any delegable expanded duty before that duty is delegated. In addition, this bill defines coronal polishing, interim treatment of a minor emergency dental condition, and qualifications for the application of pit and fissure sealants by dental assistants.The Regulations Committee of the Virginia Board of Dentistry continues to define delegable duties for DA IIs. In the current draft of the regulations, dental assistants must first hold current DANB CDA certification in order to enroll in any DA II courses.Each year, DANB publishes state-specific information about dental assisting requirements, job function listings, and the recognition or requirement of DANB exams. To order a copy of the 2009 Career Ladder Template for Dental Assistants or the 2009 DANB State Fact Booklet, download an order form at Excerpts from these publications can also be found at