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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Minnesota

The Minnesota Board of Dentistry recognizes two types of dental assistants – basic unlicensed dental assistants, and Licensed Dental Assistants, or LDAs, who must fulfill the Board’s educational and examination requirements.

Each type of dental assistant has different responsibilities and allowed duties as defined in the Minnesota Dental Practice Act. For example, basic dental assistants may apply fluoride but not take impressions, which only an LDA may do. Licensed dental assistants are also legally permitted to operate dental x-ray equipment, while unlicensed assistants are not.

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Becoming a Dental Assistant in Minnesota

Unlicensed Dental Assistants – Entry-level dental assistants in Minnesota need not meet specific licensing requirements under the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. These types of dental assistants are allowed to perform basic, supportive dental procedures under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.

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There are two types of training that basic dental assistants in Minnesota must complete. It is the supervising dentist’s responsibility to make sure that dental assistants do the following prior to working with patients:

  • Complete and maintain current CPR certification
  • Comply with current infection control guidelines as specified in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

Licensed Dental Assistant – Most dental assistants in Minnesota eventually become Licensed Dental Assistants (LDAs). Dental assistant jobs may be more accessible to LDAs, as they meet the competency standards that many employers look for. All LDAs must first hold current CPR certification before going on to fulfill other requirements. LDAs in Minnesota must meet ALL of the following requirements:

Education: Graduate from one of the following types of dental assistant education preparation programs:

  • A Minnesota dental assisting program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). In Minnesota, CODA-accredited programs are found in:
    • Brainerd
    • White Bear Lake
    • Crystal
    • Hibbing
    • Rosemount
    • Minneapolis
    • Brooklyn Park
    • Moorhead
    • Eden Prairie
    • Canby
    • Cloud
    • North Mankato
    • Rochester
    • Bemidji

OR

  • A CODA-accredited dental assisting program in another state, and additional coursework after review by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry, if necessary

OR

  • A non-CODA-accredited dental assisting program, or office/on-the-job training, and a course in Expanded Functions that is approved by the Minnesota Board of Dentistry

National Certification Examination: Pass the national DANB Certified Dental Assistant Exam.

OR

  • Held a CDA in the past, or completed a CODA-accredited dentistry program, or received a dental degree from an international university

OR

  • Hold a high school diploma or GED and have 3500 hours of approved work experience
  • This examination consists of three parts, all of which must be passed in order to become a CDA:
    • General Chairside Assisting – 120 multiple-choice questions must be completed in one and a half hours
    • Infection Control – 100 multiple-choice questions must be completed in one hour and fifteen minutes
    • Radiation Health and Safety – 100 multiple-choice questions must be completed one hour and fifteen minutes
  • This examination is offered at the following Pearson Vue testing centers in Minnesota:
    • Hermantown
    • Brainerd
    • Brooklyn Park
    • St Paul
    • Rochester
    • Eagan
    • Bloomington

State Licensure Examination: Pass the Minnesota Licensure Exam.

  • This exam is given at Prometric testing centers, and registration for the exam is handled directly through Prometric. It costs $75 to take the Minnesota Licensure Exam. The exam consists of 165 questions, and candidates have two and a half hours to complete the exam. Subjects covered include:
    • Expanded Duties
    • Radiology
  • Prometric test centers in Minnesota include:
    • Woodbury
    • Bloomington
    • Duluth

State Jurisprudence Examination: Pass the Minnesota Jurisprudence Exam.

  • This exam given at Prometric testing centers, and registration for the exam is handled directly through Prometric. It costs $65 to take the Minnesota Jurisprudence Exam. The exam consists of 100 questions and takes one and a half hours to complete. Questions are taken from the Center for Disease Control Guidelines and the Minnesota Dental Practice Act and include the following subjects:
    • Record Keeping
    • General Duties
    • Personal Conduct and Ethical Behavior
    • Delegation of Duties
    • Infection Controls
  • Prometric test centers in Minnesota include:
    • Woodbury
    • Bloomington
    • Duluth

Apply for Licensure: Finally, after the above educational and examination requirements are met, prospective LDAs in Minnesota may apply for licensure through the Minnesota Board of Dentistry via the Application for Licensure by Exam to Practice Dental Assisting. Along with the completed application, the following must be sent:

  • Check or money order payable to the Minnesota Board of Dentistry for $96.50 (includes application fee, Office of Enterprise Technology licensing surcharge, and initial fee)
  • Notarized proof of graduation
  • Notarized proof of passing the Minnesota Licensure Exam
  • Notarized proof of passing the Minnesota Jurisprudence Exam
  • Notarized proof of passing the DANB CDA Exam
  • A passport-sized recent photo
  • Photocopy of current BLS/CPR certification

Mail the application and supporting documentation to Minnesota Board of Dentistry, 2829 University Ave SE, Suite 450, Minneapolis, MN 55414.

Maintaining Dental Assistant Licensure in Minnesota

The DANB requires that all CDAs complete 12 continuing dental education credits annually and renew their CDA certification yearly. Examples of continuing dental education that is acceptable may be found on the DANB website.

Minnesota LDAs may renew their licenses online through the Minnesota Board of Dentistry. Licenses expire every two years.

During those two years, LDAs are expected to complete 25 credit hours of continuing dental education. At least 15 of those CDEs must be at the fundamental level, and 10 CDEs must be at the elective level. At least two courses must be completed in different core subject areas (core subject areas include diagnosis/treatment, managing medical emergencies, record keeping, patient communications, ethics and infection control).

Additionally, CPR certification must be maintained in order to maintain LDA licensure in Minnesota.

Fundamental courses for CDEs can be delivered as lectures, internet or home study, study clubs, and advanced education/college courses. Elective types of CDE include attending a convention, volunteering, presenting at a CE course, or self-study. Types of CE that are not acceptable for credit include financial planning, estate planning, personal growth and health, investments, and marketing.

All LDAs must maintain documentation of CDE for 24 months after each renewal period in case of a Board audit.

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