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Becoming a Dental Assistant in Oklahoma: What You Should Know

Oklahoma passed a law in 2015 requiring all dental assistants to hold permits. Dental assistants who perform only the more basic duties are credentialed based on having good character and passing a criminal background check. It is up to the individual dentist to determine whether they have had adequate training. Dental assistants who perform specialized or advanced functions, though, must meet requirements set at the state level.

There are five types of expanded function permit. The Board also issues a separate oral maxillofacial surgeon assistant permit.

Select an Oklahoma Dental Assistant Topic:

Expanded Function Permits

Dental assisting students who attend programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) can expect to meet educational qualifications for all five expanded function permits. Oklahoma has five CODA-accredited programs (http://www.danb.org/en/The-Dental-Community/Dental-Assistants/Dental-Assisting-Programs/CODA-Accredited-Dental-Assisting-Programs.aspx).

The following are requirements for individual expanded function permits.:

Radiation Safety: The radiation safety permit authorizes practice of dental radiology under supervision. There are two pathways. The applicant can complete a Board-approved course. It must be at least seven hours. The didactic portion will include radiation biology and physics, radiation techniques, and film mounting, among other concepts. The course will include written tests. It will also include hands-on experience. The individual will also need to complete a set number of radiographs.

The Dental Assisting National Board has stated that the employing dentist will verify radiography competency (http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Oklahoma.aspx).

A dental assistant can also qualify for a radiation safety permit on the basis of certification as a Certified Dental Assistant issued by the Dental Assisting National Board.

Coronal polishing and topical fluoride: Qualification in coronal polishing and topical fluoride is dependent on completion of a 14 hour Board-approved course. The course must include a clinical component that incorporates major concepts from the didactic curriculum. A dental assistant must have at least a year of chairside experience before beginning the course.

Sealants: The coronal polishing and topical fluoride permit is a prerequisite for the sealants permit. The dental assistant will also need to complete a 12 hour course in concepts related to sealants. The clinical portion will be at least five hours.

Assisting with Nitrous Oxide Administration

The dental assistant must have a year of experience before beginning a Board-approved course. The course will be at least twelve hours.

The Dental Assisting National Board reports that Oklahoma is creating rules for a fifth expanded function category: assisting dentists who hold permits for parenteral or pediatric anesthesia (http://www.danb.org/Meet-State-Requirements/State-Specific-Information/Oklahoma.aspx).

Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon Assistant Permits

In order to qualify as an oral maxillofacial surgery assistant, a dental assistant will need a supervising oral maxillofacial surgeon. He or she will need to receive at least six months of training by the oral maxillofacial surgeon. The assistant can hold a temporary training permit for up to two years while completing requirements.

State code authorizes the following exception to the usual training requirements: A dental assistant may receive credit for training received at a university, training institute, or dental school while working under a training permit and under the authority of a physician. This pathway will be authorized only at the recommendation of the anesthesia committee.

The surgery assistant will need to complete the Dental Anesthesia Assistant National Certification Examination (DAANCE) program; he or she will need to have at least six months of training before initiating the program. A DAANCE candidate will work through study materials provided by the AAOMS before attempting the certifying examination (http://www.aaoms.org/continuing-education/certification-program-daance).

The individual will need to complete four hours of Board-approved didactic training and a Board-approved course in infection control.

Oral maxillofacial surgeon assistants have a continuing education requirement. Continuing education is to be AAOMS-approved.

If the assistant stops working for a qualifying employer, the permit will revert back to dental assistant. The assistant may also qualify for a permit that authorizes assisting a dentist who holds a parenteral or pediatric anesthesia permit.

Certification by the Dental Assisting National Board

The Oklahoma Board recognizes the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential issued by the Dental Assisting National Board. Although the designation does not officially change the scope of practice of an Oklahoma dental assistant, it will be noted on the permit. The CDA, moreover, qualifies the dental assistant for a radiation safety permit.

In order to qualify as a CDA, a dental assistant must either graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by CODA or work for 3,500 hours. The CDA examination is made up of three component examinations: General Chairside Assisting, Infection Control, and Radiation Health and Safety. Examinations are computer-delivered.

The Permit Application Process

Application forms can be downloaded from the website of the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry (https://www.ok.gov/dentistry/Applications_&_Forms/index.html).

The permit fee for dental assistant is $50.

The applicant must verify citizenship or qualified alien status.

A conviction may mean that the application will be denied. However, the supervising dentist may request a waiver. Certain types of drug history are always disqualifying in cases where the dentist holds a DEA Drug registration.

Permits are renewed annually.

Additional Information

Information about Oklahoma dental assisting permits is available from the Oklahoma Board of Dentistry (https://www.ok.gov/dentistry/). The Board can be reached by telephone at (405) 522-4844.