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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Indiana

Indiana is home to 5,920 dental assistants who earn salaries of between $33,980 and $36,860 per year.

The Indiana State Board of Dentistry outlines the job descriptions and educational requirements for dental assistants, dental assistants qualified in radiography, dental assistants qualified in coronal polishing, and dental assistants qualified in applying medicaments for the control or prevention of dental caries.

A dental assistant in the state of Indiana may perform basic supportive dental procedures under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist.

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Although dental assisting in Indiana is an entry-level position that does not require licensure or state-required formal training and education, employers routinely look job candidates who are qualified through experience, education, or certification.

Education then has a direct correlation with higher earning potential. Dental assistants with the ability to perform more functions are more likely to enjoy an increase in salary and benefits.

Dental Assistant Qualified in Radiography

The Indiana State Department of Health oversees the requirements for medical radiology services, including dental radiology. The State indicates that a dental assistant must obtain a Limited Radiography License (L.R.C.) in order to perform any dental radiographic functions.

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The State Department of Health/Medical Radiology Services Program is responsible for issuing a Limited Radiography License.

To obtain an L.R.C., an assistant must complete the following steps:

  • Complete Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited educational program in radiology,

OR

Dental Assistant Qualified in Coronal Polishing

Once qualified in Coronal Polishing, a dental assistant will be able to polish the coronal surface of teeth.

To obtain this qualification, a dental assistant must meet the following criteria:

  • Be employed in the dental field for a minimum of one (1) year, AND complete an educational program approved by the Indiana State Board of Dentistry that includes:
    • Five (5) hours of instruction meeting Board-approved curriculum
    • Two (2) hours of lab work
    • Performance of polishing on at least five (5) patients under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist
    • Hold an affidavit from supervising dentist signifying competency,

OR

  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited educational program including state-required educational curriculum as outlined above, AND
  • Hold certification of completion, which should be publically displayed in the dental office

Dental Assistant Qualified in Applying Medicaments

A dental assistant with this qualification will be able to apply medicaments to the patients’ teeth, namely topical fluoride.

To obtain this qualification, an assistant must meet the following criteria:

  • Employed in the dental field for a minimum of one (1) year, AND complete Indiana State Board of Dentistry educational program with the following four requirements
    • Nine (9) hours of instruction
    • Two (2) hours of lab work
    • Performance of function on give (5) patients under the direct supervision of licensed dentist or dental hygienist
    • An affidavit from supervising dentistry signifying competency

OR

  • Graduate from CODA-accredited educational program, and
  • Display certificate of education publically in dental office.

Attending a CODA-accredited Dental Assisting Program in Indiana

CODA serves to develop high standards for continual improvement of quality in the dental field, and it is the only organization with the capacity to accredit, or approve, a course on the national level.

There are 11 CODA-accredited dental assisting programs in Indiana, which offer Dental Assisting Certificates.

Some programs may include courses in Coronal Polishing and Caries Prevention, allowing an assistant to achieve both a CODA-accredited dental assisting certification as well as a Coronal Polishing or Caries Prevention certification.

Along with those mentioned, courses normally found in an Indiana dental assisting program include the following:

  • Oral Anatomy
  • Medical and Dental Emergencies
  • Dental Therapeutics
  • Microbiology and Asepsis Techniques
  • Clinical Science
  • Dental Materials
  • Oral Pathology, Physiology, and Anatomy
  • Preventative Dentistry
  • Introduction to Dentistry
  • Radiology
  • Oral Histology and Embryology
  • Practice Management, Ethics, and Jurisprudence

Attaining DANB National Certification

Achieving a national DANB certification is necessary in the state of Indiana for becoming qualified in radiology. Along with this, national certification serves to distinguish the dental assistant as achieving excellence in the field of dental assisting.

DANB offers four certifications:

DANB CDA certification is achieved through passing the CDA exam. The CDA exam is made up of three sub-exams including the following:

Only the CDA certification or the Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) certification are necessary for an Indiana assistant interested in performing radiology functions.

The exams may be taken altogether as part of the full CDA exam, or they may be taken individually within a five (5)-month window.

In order to take the CDA exam, an applicant must follow three steps:

Step 1. Check Eligibility

There are three pathways an assistant can choose from to become eligible to take the exam.

  • Pathway 1 includes graduation from a CODA-accredited dental program and current CPR certification from a DANB-accepted provider.
  • Pathway 2 includes a high school diploma, a minimum of 3,500 hours of approved work experience, and current CPR certification from a DANB-accepted provider.
  • Pathway 3 includes having former CDA status, or graduation from a CODA-accredited DDS or DMD program, or graduation from a dental program outside of the U.S., and current CRP certification from a DANB-accepted provider.

Step 2. Complete the Application and Submit the Fee.

The full CDA exam fee is $375, but if an applicant is taking the exams separately, each exam will have a stand-alone fee. The GC exam has a $200 fee; the RHS exam has a $175 fee; and the ICE exam has a $175 fee.

Step 3. Once the applicant receives Test Admission Notice from DANB, the applicant may follow the instructions to schedule a time, date, and location for the exam. Exams are scheduled at Pearson VUE testing centers.

Pearson VUE testing centers in Indiana are located in the following cities:

  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Indianapolis (West), IN
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Terre Haute, IN
  • Merrillville, IN

Professional Networking Through the Indiana Dental Assistants Association

The Indiana Dental Assistants Association (IDAA) is a part of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA), which is a professional organization designed for the promotion of the dental assisting career through education, legislation, credentialing, and professionalism.

IDAA offers the following resources to its members:

Membership and involvement in the IDAA provides access and opportunity to networking within the dental assisting field in Indiana, as well as distinguishing members as being highly involved and committed to excellence in their field.

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