By: Kevin Henry

Are you looking to become a dental assistant or are moving as a current dental assistant? Make sure to check the dental assistant requirements in Arkansas to see if you are still qualified in the state to practice.

Each state has different requirements for dental assistants, here are the levels, and functions permitted for dental assistants in Arkansas.

Levels of Dental Assistants in Arkansas

  1. Dental Assistant
  2. Registered Dental Assistant

According to DANB, a dental assistant must be a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) who holds a permit in radiography from the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners (ARSBDE) in order to expose dental radiographs.

To obtain this permit, the dental assistant must:

  • Hold a current national DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification
  • Be a graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program
  • Successfully complete and submit a certificate of completion of a radiography course approved by the ARSBDE
  • Hold a current Healthcare Provider-level CPR certification
  • Apply for registration to the ARSBDE
  • Successfully complete the Arkansas jurisprudence exam.

Please note that a dental assistant holding a current radiography permit dated prior to November 1, 2011 will not be required to complete an approved radiography course unless he or she is operating an imaging machine other than conventional flat film radiography, such as cone-beam computed axial tomography (CT) scan.

Dental assistants operating imaging machines other than conventional flat film radiography, including dental assistants who were issued a radiography permit by the ASBDE prior to November 1, 2011, must complete a Board-approved course in radiography and submit proof of completion to the ASBDE prior to operating such machines and/or before renewal of the radiography permit.

Training in standard precautions and other infection control protocols required by OSHA and as recommended by the CDC and set forth in Arkansas rule shall be provided to all dental healthcare personnel by the employer upon initial employment prior to direct patient care, whenever new tasks are assigned which affects the level of occupational exposure, and at least annually.

  • Click here to learn more about DANB’s CDA exam.
  • Click here for a list of CODA-accredited dental assisting programs.

1. Dental Assitant

Dental assistants in Arkansas may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the personal supervision of a licensed dentist.

Personal supervision is defined as the dentist is in the office or treatment facility, has personally diagnosed the condition to be treated, has personally authorized the procedures, remains in the office or treatment facility while the procedures are being performed, and evaluates the performance of the dental assistant before the dismissal of the patient.

Any reversible dental task or procedure assigned by the supervising dentist that does not require a permit or the professional skills of a licensed dentist or licensed dental hygienist is allowable to this level of a dental assistant.

There are no educational or training requirements for this level of dental assisting other than the required OSHA, CDC, and Arkansas rule in infection control and prevention and occupational exposure.

2. Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

A Registered Dental Assistant in Arkansas is an individual who holds a permit from the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners (ASBDE) to perform one or more of the allowed expanded functions, which include coronal polishing, operating dental radiographic equipment inducing and monitoring nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia and monitoring patients under deep sedation or general anesthesia in offices where the dentist is permitted to provide these services.

A separate permit is required for each of the expanded functions.

To be issued a permit for any of the expanded functions (except Sedation Monitoring, which has additional requirements), the RDA must:

  • Hold a current national DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification OR
  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program OR
  • Complete an ASBDE-approved course in the desired expanded function(s) OR
  • Receive on-the-job training from an Arkansas licensed dentist;

AND

  • Hold current Basic Life Support-level CPR certificate;
  • Provide proof of competency in the desired expanded function(s) and apply for registration to the ASBDE;
  • Successfully complete the Arkansas jurisprudence exam.

For those interested in sedation monitoring, the requirements are as follows:

  1. Hold a current permit for nitrous oxide administration
  2. Hold current CPR certification
  3. Hold current DANB CDA certification (or be a Registered Dental Assistant, RN, or LPN)
  4. Successfully complete the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Anesthesia Assistant’s training program or a Board-approved equivalent course within the two years immediately preceding application
  5. Apply to the ASBDE for registration
  6. Successfully complete the Arkansas jurisprudence exam

To renew permits to perform expanded functions, RDAs must provide the ASBDE proof of completing two (2) hours of continuing education in infection control every two years.

  • Click here to access the application for being a Registered Dental Assistant in Arkansas
  • Click here to access the application for expanded functions permits

Prohibited Functions for Dental Assistants Arkansas

The following are not permitted by any level of dental assistant in Arkansas:

  • Scaling, root planing, and curettage
  • Final placement of orthodontic brackets
  • Placement, seating, or removal of any final or permanent restorations
  • Diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Surgical or cutting procedures on hard or soft tissue
  • Prescription, injection, inhalation, and parenteral administration of drugs (except where permitted by the Arkansas Board)
  • Any procedure that contributes to or results in irreversible alteration of the oral anatomy
  • Those functions relegated to a dental hygienist:
    • Using air-driven electric, sonic, ultrasonic, or otherwise powered scalers or polishers (except by dental assistants possessing an expanded duties permit for polishing)
    • Oral examination
    • Oral prophylaxis
    • Placing medicaments into the sulcus or periodontal pockets, for periodontal disease
    • Place silver diamine fluoride

Allowed Functions for Dental Assistants in Arkansas

Dental Assistant Allowed Functions under Personal Supervision:

  • Any reversible dental task or procedure assigned by the supervising dentist that does not require a permit or the professional skills of a licensed dentist or licensed dental hygienist

Registered Dental Assistant Allowed Functions under Personal Supervision:

  • Perform coronal polishing
  • Operate dental radiographic equipment
  • Place sealants (if the dental assistant holds a coronal polishing permit)
  • Induce and monitor nitrous oxide/oxygen analgesia
  • Monitor patients who are under deep sedation or general anesthesia only in offices where the dentist is permitted to perform those services
  • All duties designated to Dental Assistants, under the same level of required supervision

Photo by Jordan Benton

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