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How to Become a Dental Assistant in North Dakota: Start with Attending a Dental Assistant School in North Dakota

North Dakota sets standards for dental assistants. A dental assistant must, at minimum, hold CPR certification. The state offers various credentials in dental assisting, each with its own scope of practice. Major designations include Qualified Dental Assistant and Registered Dental Assistant.

QDA is a registered status; it authorizes radiograph duties. Dental assistants who are not registered can perform only a limited set of duties (https://www.nddentalboard.org/practitioners/Assistant/index.asp). Scope of practice for each classification is described in Chapter 20-03-01 of state code.

A Registered Dental Assistant has a greater range of allowable duties. RDAs can pursue qualifications or permits in pit and fissure sealants, anesthesia monitoring, and restorative functions.

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Requirements for Qualified Dental Assistant in North Dakota

In order to achieve the QDA registration, a dental assistant must pass the Infection Control (ICE) and Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exams offered by the Dental Assisting National Board.* Both exams are computer-delivered and can be taken at whatever stage the person feels ready. Candidate information is found on the DANB website (http://www.danb.org/Become-Certified/Exams-and-Certifications/RHICE-Exam.aspx).

The prospective QDA will also need a minimum 650 hours of instruction; this must include on-the-job training.

*Both the ICE and RHS are component examinations of the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination.

Requirements for Registered Dental Assistant in North Dakota

A dental assistant can qualify for RDA on the basis of education or certification. There are two acceptable program types. Programs may be CODA-accredited or approved by the North Dakota Board. North Dakota currently has one CODA-accredited program.

In order to qualify by certification, a dental assistant will need to complete all three components of the CDA examination process: the ICE and RHS plus the General Chairside Assisting exam. A person who did not graduate from a CODA-accredited program will generally qualify for the GC only after accruing 3,500 hours of work experience; this takes two years.

If the dental assistant did not complete his or her qualifying program within the prior year and did not achieve certification within the prior year, he or she will need to demonstrate 16 hours of continuing education when applying for registration through the North Dakota Board.

Optional Adjunct National Certification

The North Dakota Dental Assistant Association notes that, while CDA status alone does not qualify a North Dakota dental assistant for additional duties and a state-specific application process is still required, a certified dental assistant’s name badge will reflect the additional credential (http://www.nddaa.org/connection.html).

There can be advantages in maintaining national certification. National Certification facilitates the credentialing process in some states.

Pit and Fissure Sealants and Nitrous Oxide Endorsements for Dental Assistants

Pit and fissure sealants and nitrous oxide monitoring represent two separate endorsements. An RDA can qualify for both by providing documentation of graduation from a CODA-accredited program. Otherwise, the person can meet requirements by completing a Board-approved course in the specific function desired.

Anesthesia Assisting Permit for Dental Assistants

An anesthesia assisting permit allows an RDA to assist an oral and maxillofacial surgery specialist. The RDA will need training in phlebotomy or intravenous access. He or she will need to complete an approved course in the function and pass an approved competency examination.

Restorative Functions Permit

In order to earn a restorative functions permit, a dental assistant will need to complete an approved curriculum and pass two examinations: 1) the DANB Restorative Function (RF) component exam 2) and the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) Restorative Examination (or other equivalent test).

The WREB Restorative Exam is often thought of as a component of the dental hygiene examination process, though several states use it to test clinical competency of expanded functions dental assistants. Candidate information is available on the WREB website (https://wreb.org/hygiene-candidates/). The website includes a list of upcoming clinical examinations throughout the Western United States (https://wreb.org/hygiene-candidates/hygiene-exam-schedule/). The fee may vary from one location to another. Generally, candidates can expect to pay at least $500.

The DANB Restorative Functions test is computer-delivered (http://www.danb.org/Become-Certified/Exams-and-Certifications/RF-Exam.aspx).

A dental assistant who passed the West Regional Examination Board more than five years in the past will need to provide evidence of having performed restorative functions in another jurisdiction where he or she was authorized.

The QDA & RDA Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the Board website (https://www.nddentalboard.org/practitioners/Assistant/index.asp). Applications include professional history questions.

QDAs and RDAs must pass a jurisprudence and ethics examination. The exam is open book and can be completed online (https://www.nddentalboard.org/practitioners/jp/login.asp).

The QDA/ RDA application fee is $130.

Instructions for nitrous oxide monitoring and sealants qualification are found on the general QDA/ RDA application. The Board has provided separate applications for restorative functions and anesthesia assisting (https://www.nddentalboard.org/practitioners/Assistant/rda/permit/index.asp).

An anesthesia assisting applicant will need to provide a copy of the anesthesia permit that his or her oral and maxillofacial surgery specialist works under.

CPR status is to be maintained throughout the registration cycle. RDA and QDA registrations are renewed biennially. Registrants must meet a 16-hour continuing education requirement.

Additional Information

Information is available from the North Dakota State Board of Dental Examiners (https://www.nddentalboard.org/). Interested individuals may contact the Board with questions about the regulatory process. The Board can be reached by telephone at 701-258-8600 or by email at ‘info at nddentalboard.org’.

The North Dakota Board encourages those who are considering enrolling in expanded functions courses to seek approval first (https://www.nddentalboard.org/practitioners/CE/index.asp).

The North Dakota Dental Assistants Association, state chapter of the American Dental Assistants Association, is a source of continuing education and other resources (http://www.nddaa.org). The NDDAA maintains a page of dental assistant job opportunities (http://www.nddaa.org/opportunities.html). The NDAA has noted that there are shortages in some parts of the state.