Texas Dental Assistant License

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You can work as an entry-level dental assistant in Texas without formal training. However, if you want to upgrade your pay level and seek better opportunities in the workplace, you must get a dental assistant license. There are three types of dental assistant licenses you can get, plus three advanced certificates. You must undergo formal training to acquire the credentials necessary to bag any of these licenses. This guide covers how you can work your way to becoming a professional dental assistant.

Dental Assisting Requirements for Each Level

Radiography Requirements

To join radiography, you must be a registered dental assistant. Please note that any positioning, exposing, or making dental x-rays during training or under employer supervision will not count. Moreover, you can only perform on-the-job training radiological procedures for a maximum of a year.

Dental Assistant

To work as an entry-level dental assistant in Texas, you do not need any formal education or training. However, you can only perform basic supportive dental procedures under the supervision of a licensed dentist as outlined by the state dental practice act.

Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

Entry-level dental assistants can become registered dental assistants by registering with the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE). To be eligible for an RDA title, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Earn a GED from an accredited high school, and
  • Complete a practical course on basic life support, plus
  • Earn the national Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) CDA certification and complete the Texas Jurisprudence Assessment, and
  • Complete a training course that delves into jurisprudence, infection control, positioning, and exposing dental X-rays as outlined by the TSBDE, and
  • Apply for RDA registration from the TSBDE, and
  • Complete a background check by submitting your fingerprints to an FBI-approved fingerprinting site.

Any RDA who wants to administer nitrous oxide to patients must meet further requirements. These include:

  • Completing a course on basic life support, and
  • Undertaking at least 8 hours of didactic education in testing and monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide. The course must be offered by a TSBDE-approved dental, dental hygiene, or dental assisting program, and
  • Applying to the TSBDE for a nitrous oxide monitoring certificate.

For more information about DANB certified dental assistant certifications, please read this guide.

Dental Assistant Qualified to Perform Expanded Functions

Dentist assistants in Texas can broaden their functions and work under general or direct supervision from licensed dentists. To do so, they must complete the following requirements based on the functions they wish to perform:

For pit and fissure sealant procedures:

The dental assistant must have:

  • Worked at least two years as a dental assistant, and
  • Completed a course in basic life support, and
  • Undertaken at least 8 hours of clinical and didactic education in pit and fissure sealants. The dental, dental hygiene or dental assistant program of choice must have Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accreditation and TSBDE approval.

For coronal polishing procedures:

The dental assistant must have:

  • At least two years of work experience as a dental assistant, and
  • Completed any of the following:
  • Completed at least 8 hours of clinical and didactic education in coronal polishing. The dental, dental hygiene or dental assistant program of choice must have CODA accreditation and TSBDE approval, or
  • Graduated from a dental assisting program with CODA accreditation and TSBDE approval, or
  • Earned the national DANB coronal polishing certificate.

Certified Dental Assistant

Registered dental assistants in Texas can obtain certified dental assistant licenses. To qualify for such a license, you must:

  • Take the Dental Assistant National Board (DANB) examination and pass. It comprises radiation health, general chairside assisting, and safety, and infection control, AND
  • Possess certification of skills with cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Registered Dental Assistant Requirements in Texas

You can qualify to be a registered dental assistant in Texas on a state or national level. In all cases, you must have a BLS certification. The qualification requirements are as follows:

At the state level, the requirements will depend on if you have national certification. Any applicant with national certification will still need to undertake the state jurisprudence exam. Those without such certification will need to

  • Undertake a TSBDE-approved course in Texas. The TSBDE will not recognize courses taken outside the state, and
  • Possess x-ray experience: Radiography courses in Texas average 8 to 16 hours. You can find a list of approved courses here. If you are already working as a dental assistant, you can perform x-rays under supervision from a licensed dentist. After that, you will meet the requirements.

The Dental Assisting National Board regulates the qualifying requirements at the national level. To become an RDA, you must meet both examination and education/ experience criteria. These include:

  • Examinations: You will be eligible to become an RDA if you have undertaken a certificate or associate degree course in a CODA-accredited program. The CODA exams entail radiation health and safety, infection control, and general chairside assisting. You can take the exams before meeting the requirements, but you must wait to take the general chairside assisting exam. For more information on the examinations, please refer to the DANB website.
  • Education/ Experience: If you have not completed the program but have two years of work experience (totaling 3,500 qualifying hours), you are eligible to be an RDA.

The RDA Application Process

You can apply for your registered dental assistant license online. However, you must mail in the following documents:

  • The completed application form, which you can find here,
  • The application payment receipt: Applicants must pay $36. However, military applicants, veterans, and active-duty spouses are not subject to any fees,
  • A copy of your social security card,
  • A copy of your national certification card (where applicable),
  • Self-queries through the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) and the American Association of Dental Boards (AADB) Clearinghouse. These should be in their original sealed envelopes, and
  • A copy of the course completion certificate.

Successful applicants will receive instructions on paying the initial credentialing fees and how to activate their credentials.

Purpose of a Criminal History Evaluation

A criminal history could deter you from a successful license application. Examples include convictions or deferred adjudications for felonies and misdemeanor offenses. If you have reasons to believe that you cannot enroll in a dental assistant program due to a criminal past, you can always petition the TSBDE for clarification. You should include the following paperwork in your mail:

  • A criminal history evaluation application,
  • A letter explaining why you think you might be ineligible for the education program or dental assistant licensure,
  • Any certified court documents supporting your concerns: examples include probation records and indictments,
  • Any documents requested by the TSBDE, and
  • An application fee.

Expanded Function Certificates

Dental assistants can expand their skillsets by applying for expanded function certificates. These include coronal polishing, pit and fissure sealants, and nitrous oxide monitoring. Each of these certificates comes with its set of requirements.

To get a nitrous oxide monitoring certification, you must:

  • Undergo training on basic life support where you demonstrate your skills on a manikin,
  • Complete 8 hours of training and testing in a CODA-accredited school. You can find board-approved courses here.

To obtain a pit and fissure sealant certification, you must:

  • Have at least two years experience as a dental assistant,
  • Complete 8 hours of training in a board-approved program, and
  • Undergo basic life support training.

Any dental assistant who wants to qualify for the coronal polishing certification must:

  • Have at least two years experience as a dental assistant,
  • Complete either of the following:
  • Complete a course in a CODA-accredited program which can be a dental assisting program or an 8-hour dental program, or
  • Achieve a coronal polishing certification from the DANB. You can find more information about the DANB exam here. It costs $225 to take the exam delivered via computer.

Please note that any dental assistant who has completed the CODA-accredited courses outside Texas must complete a Texas jurisprudence exam. The same holds for candidates who qualify for any expanded function certificates due to a DANB examination or completion of a dental assisting program.

The Expanded Function Application Process

You can apply for any of the expanded function certificates by downloading the application forms below:

When sending your application to the board, ensure that you include:

  • A copy of your certificate of completion from a TSBE-approved course,
  • A letter from your supervising dentist, noting that you have at least two years experience: This only applies to coronal polishing and pit and fissure sealant applicants,
  • NPDB and AADB Clearinghouse self-queries in their sealed envelopes, and
  • A notarized application form.

Please note that when applying for different certifications simultaneously, you should submit only one copy of the required reports.

Dental Assistant Salaries in Texas

Based on the 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistants take home salaries in the range between $30,393​ to ​$46,987​. However, this depends on factors including education, experience, level of certification, and even region. Take region, for example. Dental assistants in the Houston area average a salary of ​$36,490, in line with the region’s high dental assistant employment rate.

Certificate Renewal Requirements

There is no standard renewal time as it depends on the length of the initial certification period. However, to renew your license, you must meet continuing education (CE) requirements based on the number of certificates you hold. For example, a dental assistant with more than two certificates must complete at least 12 continuing education hours for each one-year renewal period.

Educational Requirements for a Dental Assistant in Texas

CE Requirements

Rule §114.12 requires that all certificate holders adhere to the following continuing education requirements:

  • You must attend at least 6 hours of continuing education each year in courses relating to dental assistant duties. Of these, at least 3 hours must count towards continuing clinical education.
  • The classes can be self-study, interactive computer classes (e.g., webinars where you ask and answer questions), or in-class lectures.
  • You can carry forward a maximum of 6 hours of continuing education from the years before the renewal period.
  • For the continuing hours to be valid, you must undertake your course from a TSBDE-approved provider.

Attesting to Completing CE and Sending Proof of Completion of CE

Please note that you will not be eligible for license renewal until you meet the required continuing hours. When applying for license renewal, you will sign an attestation stating that you have completed your hours. You will not need to send any proof to the board. However, you should know that up to 5% of license holders are subject to random audits each month. If you’re non-compliant, you could lose your right to renew your license.

Every licensed dental assistant must complete at least 12 CE hours within two years before renewing their license. The table below sheds more light on license renewal requirements:

Type of Continuing Education Required? Number of Continuing Education Hours
Scientific/ Technical (Hands-On) Yes At least 6
BLS CPR (hands-on) Yes  
Controlled Substance No  
Risk-Management (recordkeeping, ethics) No  
Self-Study (video, audio, and reading courses) No  
PALS Only No  
Jurisprudence Assessment No  
Anesthesia Jurisprudence Examination No  
PMP No  

Approved CE Course Providers

You can only undertake courses from board-approved courses. The list below takes you through certified CE providers in Texas who meet the board’s criteria:

  • The American Dental Association, through its Continuing Education Recognition Program (CERP),
  • The American Dental Association, its component, and its constituent organizations,
  • The Academy of General Dentistry, its constituents, and approved sponsors,
  • The American Dental Hygienists’ Association, its component, and its constituent organizations,
  • The National Dental Association, its constituent, and its component societies,
  • The National Dental Hygienists’ Association, its constituent, and its component societies,
  • The Western Regional Examining Board,
  • The American Academy of Dental Hygiene,
  • The American Dental Education Association,
  • The American Heart Association,
  • The Dental Hygiene Educators of Texas, Inc (DHET, Inc), formally known as Texas Dental Hygiene Educators’ Association,
  • The Dental Laboratory Association of Texas,
  • The Dental Assisting National Board,
  • The American Dental Assistants Association and its constituent organizations,
  • The Compliance Division, LLC,
  • Dental Compliance Specialists, LLC; and
  • All Dental/dental hygiene schools and programs accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association,
  • All American Dental Association-approved specialty organizations,
  • All American Medical Association approved specialty organizations,
  • All American Medical Association approved hospital courses,
  • All the Medical schools and programs accredited by the Standards of the Medical Specialties, the American Medical Association, the Advisory Board for Osteopathic Specialists and Boards of Certification or the American Osteopathic Association,
  • Any other entities approved by the Board, including:
    • Dental Quality Assurance,
    • The Texas School of Sleep Medicine and Technology,
    • Dentist Secure Labs; and
    • Boyd W. Shephard, D.D.S., J.D.

Additional Certifications

Dental assistants in Texas can always obtain additional certificates, including nitrous oxide administration, coronal polishing, and pit and fissure sealant certifications. All these certifications require you to undertake a course on related topics and register with the state board after completing your training.

Board Approved Dental Assistant X-Ray Certification Courses and Examinations

To undertake x-ray certification courses and exams, you can enroll in the following schools. Please note that while the schools are obligated to maintain your course records, it’s advisable to keep copies of your results.

Board Approved Nitrous Oxide Monitoring Courses

To learn how to administer nitrous oxide, you can enroll in any of the following programs:

Additional Resources

To learn more about dental assistant programs and duties, you can check out the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and the state administrative code. Moreover, you can always reach the board by emailing them at information@tsbde.texas.gov or calling them on 512-463-6400.

If you have questions about the registration process, please refer to the Texas Dental Assistants Association website.