Dental Assistant Requirements in South Dakota: Dental Assistant Training in South Dakota Should be Your First Step

All South Dakota dental assistants are subject to requirements set at the state level. They must be at least 18 years of age and must have high school diplomas or GEDs. Many South Dakota dental assistants are subject to training standards set at the state level. This depends on the specific functions they will be performing.

In order to take x-rays, a South Dakota dental assistant must be licensed as a dental radiographer. In order to perform duties considered to be expanded function, he or she must be licensed as a Registered Dental Assistant, or RDA. Generally, a person who holds national certification as a Certified Dental Assistant will also qualify for both these licenses. National certification is not mandatory, however. There are other pathways.

The South Dakota Board also issues permits for monitoring anesthesia and for administering nitrous oxide. These are duties that are not allowed at all in many states. The qualification process is state-specific.

Select a South Dakota Dental Assistant Topic:

Becoming a Registered Dental Assistant in South Dakota

There are several pathways to RDA status. A student may complete a formal program that is either accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or expressly approved by the South Dakota Board of Dentistry. The RDA application packet lists South Dakota schools that fall into each of these categories. Currently, there are two approved, non-accredited dental assisting programs and one approved expanded functions course. There is also one CODA-accredited dental assisting program. There are many additional CODA-accredited programs around the nation; a list can be found on the website of the Dental Assisting National Board (

Also acceptable is certification by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) or a certificate of competency by the South Dakota Board. According to state regulation, a certificate of competency can be issued based on examination.

Becoming a Dental Radiographer

A dental assistant can be granted a dental radiographer license on the basis of national certification as a dental assistant or 16 hours of radiographic coursework. The 16-hour course must be approved by the South Dakota Board. Generally speaking, it is to be completed in the six months prior to application. An exception is made for individuals who are registered as dental radiographers in other states; they may be licensed in South Dakota on the basis of 16-hour courses that were completed elsewhere.

Becoming a Nationally Certified Dental Assistant

The Dental Assisting National Board issues the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential. There are multiple steps to the certification process. Ultimately, a candidate will need to pass three examinations: Radiation Health and Safety (RHS), Infection Control (ICE), and General Chairside Assisting (GC). In order to be eligible for the General Chairside Assisting exam and national certification, a person must have graduated from a CODA-accredited program or accrued 3,500 hours of experience over a timeframe of at least two years.

A candidate who has met requirements for the GC may opt to take all three examinations together; this results in some cost savings. Examinations are computer-delivered and are available through cooperation with Pearson VUE assessment company.

The DANB application process also includes background screening. A certification candidate must provide evidence of CPR certification.

Sedation Monitoring and Nitrous Oxide Administration

Sedation monitoring and nitrous oxide administration permit holders must hold CPR certification at above the basic level. The South Dakota Board accepts the following three certifications:

  • American Heart Association (AHA) for the Healthcare Provider
  • American Red Cross (ARC) for the Healthcare Provider
  • American Red Cross (ARC) for the Professional Rescuer

Both permits require either 1) recent coursework or 2) recent experience in combination with coursework that was completed in the more distant past.

A registered dental assistant who seeks the sedation monitoring permit must complete an eight hour course. He or she may document a course from the prior 13 months or qualifying experience from the prior two years.

A dental assistant who seeks the nitrous oxide administration permit is to have an approved course that at least substantially meets the standards of the 2012 edition of the “Guidelines for Teaching Pain Control and Sedation to Dentists and Dental Students”. The dental assistant is expected to apply for a permit within 13 months of course completion unless he or she can document relevant experience during the prior three-year period.

The ‘documents’ section of the Board website includes a list of approved nitrous oxide and anesthesia monitoring courses (

The Application Process

Application materials can be downloaded from the Board website ( There are five separate applications relevant to those in the dental assisting profession: RDA, dental radiographer, dental assistant sedation monitoring, RDA sedation monitoring, and RDA nitrous oxide administration.

The sedation monitoring and nitrous oxide application packets include forms that can be used to document recent experience.

RDAs will document their education in different ways, depending on circumstances. Individuals who complete approved, non-accredited training programs will document both their classroom training and their on-the-job training.

In all cases, the Board will require a copy of a birth certificate, evidence of high school diploma or successful GED testing, and documentation of name change (if applicable). However, an RDA who later applies for nitrous oxide administration or sedation monitoring authorization does not need to re-submit these materials.

RDA, dental radiography, and nitrous oxide administration application each carry a $40 fee.

Additional Information

Information is available from the South Dakota State Board of Dentistry ( The Board can be reached by telephone at 605-224-1282 or by email at ‘Contactus at’.

The South Dakota Dental Assistants’ Association is the state chapter of the American Dental Assistants Association. The SDDAA uses Facebook to keep members (and others) informed of happenings.