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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Louisiana

The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry was established in 1880, as the official state agency responsible for regulating the dental profession in Louisiana. The state recognizes both dental assistants and expanded duty dental assistants.

Dental AssistantsDental assistants fill entry-level jobs that do not require state-mandated training or education. Even so, employers often look to hire job applicants with higher levels of experience and education.

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Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA) – An expanded duty dental assistant is capable of performing more duties than a basic dental assistant. To achieve EDDA status, an assistant must do the following:

  • Be a graduate of a Louisiana Board-approved, Commission on Dental Accreditation CODA-accredited dental assisting program that provides training in EDDA functions and duties
  • Provide proof of completion of a Louisiana Board-approved radiology, or x-ray, function and safety course
  • Provide proof of current CPR certification
  • Fill out the State of Louisiana EDDA Certificate Confirmation Application
  • Provide $100 application fee

Gaining the Qualifications to Work as a Dental Assistant in Louisiana

Education and Training Programs – When entering a dental assisting or expanded duty dental assisting program for certification, the program must be Louisiana Board-approved, CODA-accredited, and include at least 30 hours of instruction. These programs most often result in certification, but associate’s degrees may also be available.

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To fulfill the requirements of the Louisiana State Board, course objectives must include the following:

  • The reasons for performing expanded duties
  • Criteria for correct performance of expanded duties
  • Effects of improper performance of expanded duties
  • Familiarity with the Dental Practice Act
  • Jurisprudence of dental assistants
  • Emergencies in dental assisting
  • Oral anatomy
  • Placement of pit and fissure sealants
  • X-ray functions
  • CPR life support instruction

National Certification – The Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) provides national certification that show a dental assistant’s dedication to the field, and that help a dental assistant improve thier earning potential.

DANB offers four examination and certification options:

The most common exam and certification for dental assistants is the CDA certification. The CDA exam is comprised of the following three component exams, which may be taken with the full CDA exam or as standalone exams.

If taking all components, the total fee is $375.

To take the full CDA exam, an applicant must complete the following steps:

Step 1. Check Eligibility

Step 2. Submit Application and Fee

Step 3. Schedule a time, date, and location for the exam

The CDA exam is administered at Pearson VUE professional centers, which are located in the following Louisiana cities:

  • Baton Rouge, LA
  • Metairie, LA
  • Shreveport, LA

Other close examination sites located outside of the state include:

  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Texarkana, Arkansas

Allowed and Prohibited Dental Assistant Duties in Louisiana

Dental AssistantsA dental assistant in Louisiana is authorized to perform Louisiana State Board-approved procedures, as long as the assistant is working under the direct supervision and responsibility of a licensed dentist. Board-approved procedures include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Serving as the licensed dentist’s chair side assistant
  • Taking and developing dental radiographs and intra-oral photographs
  • Taking and recording pulse, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Applying non-aerosol topical anesthetics, topical fluorides, desensitizing agents, and non-endodontic oxygenating agents
  • Charting existing restorations and missing teeth
  • Flossing teeth and making preliminary mouth inspections
  • Educating patients of correct oral hygiene procedures
  • Removing cement from dental restorations and appliances
  • Making dental plaque smears
  • Placing or removing preformed crowns
  • Placing or removing ligatures, cutting and tucking ligatures
  • Removing final impressions

Unless the dental assistant has been employed by a licensed, practicing dentist since before July 30, 1992, the following procedures are prohibited:

  • Applying cavity liners
  • Excluding capping of exposed pulpal tissue
  • Placing, wedging, or removing matrices
  • Placing and removing periodontal dressings
  • Placing and removing retraction cords.

Expanded Duty Dental Assistant (EDDA) – A dental assistant who wishes to expand to performing further duties may pursue a Louisiana Board issued EDDA certificate. Once certified in expanded duties, the licensed dentist may delegate any reasonable duties to the dental assistant, provided that the duties are easily reversible, not harmful to the patient, and performed under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.

The specific allowable duties for an EDDA will correspond to which expanded duty courses the assistant has completed, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Coronal polishing procedures
  • Placing, wedging, or removing matrices,
  • Applying cavity liners and bases
  • Placing and removing retraction cords
  • Enhancing temporaries

The Louisiana State Board of Dentistry prohibits expanded duty dental assistants from performing the following duties:

  • Periodontal screening and probing
  • Removal of calculus
  • Root planning
  • Placement of antimicrobial agents
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Surgical or cutting procedures
  • Prescribing drugs or medication
  • Administering local anesthetic

Working as a Dental Assistant in Louisiana

Louisiana is home to 3,830 dental assistants, giving the state a ratio of 2.03 dental assistants for every one thousand residents. The mean salary for dental assistants in the state is $29,310, with opportunities for advancement usually based on experience. Ten-year job growth through 2020 is estimated to be 30% with 960 new dental assistant jobs expected throughout the state during this time.

A dental assistant in Louisiana may join the Louisiana Dental Assistants Association (LADAA), which is a sub-component of the American Dental Assistants Association. LADAA is dedicated to the enhancement and strengthening of the dental assisting field, giving assistants opportunities that included, but are not limited to, the following

  • National meetings
  • Continuing education
  • Networking opportunities

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