The Nebraska Board of Dentistry recognizes two categories of dental assistant:
- Basic dental assistants may assist a licensed dentist with basic supportive dental procedures under that licensed dentist’s direct supervision.
- Dental assistants qualified in coronal polishing may perform coronal polishing procedures under a licensed dentist’s general supervision.
In addition, the Nebraska Board of Dentistry imposes additional requirements for dental assistants who plan to take dental x-rays.
Becoming a Dental Assistant in Nebraska
Basic Dental Assistant
At this level of dental assisting, the Nebraska Board of Dentistry imposes no educational or training mandates for assistants performing only the most basic functions; however, employers often seek candidates with qualifications that include experience and some level of training.
Assisting in administering general anesthesia, inhalation analgesia, or parenteral sedation, requires dental assistants to hold current certification in basic life support skills.
Dental Assistant Qualified in Coronal Polishing
There are two ways that one may become a dental assistant qualified in coronal polishing in Nebraska:
- Option 1: Graduate from a dental assisting education program that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) of the American Dental Association. Currently, dental assistant schools in Nebraska are located in Grand Island, Omaha, Imperial, Valentine, Ogallala, Broken Bow, North Platte, and Lincoln, as well as online
- Option 2: Complete one year (a minimum of 1500 hours) of clinical work experience as a dental assistant AND complete a Nebraska Board of Dentistry-approved course in coronal polishing procedures
Many dental assistants in Nebraska go on to fulfill radiography requirements, as being able to take dental x-rays and operate radiography equipment makes them more marketable when looking for a job. There are three ways that a dental assistant may become qualified to perform dental x-rays in Nebraska:
- Option 1: Complete a Nebraska Board of Dentistry approved two-day course in dental radiography
- Option 2: Pass the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam. The steps to become a CDA in Nebraska are:
- Satisfy Educational Requirements
- Option 1: Graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program
- Option 2: Obtain a high school diploma/GED AND complete 3500 hours of approved work experience
- Option 3: For candidates who have held CDA certification in the past, graduated from a CODA-accredited dentist preparation program, or received a dental degree in another country
- Pass the DANB’s CDA Exam, including three sections:
- General Chairside Assisting
- Radiation Health and Safety
- Infection Control
- The CDA Exam is given at the following Pearson Vue testing centers in Nebraska:
- North Platte
- Satisfy Educational Requirements
- Option 3: Complete a CODA-accredited dental assisting program that provides dental radiography training
Maintaining Dental Assistant Certification in Nebraska
If a Nebraska dental assistant opts to become a CDA, the certification is renewable biennially. The DANB requires all CDAs to complete at least 12 continuing dental education credits annually. All CDE credits must be related to dental assisting, and programs must be at least 45 minutes in length. The DANB has determined that all CDE credits for CDA renewal may be earned through online CDE. Categories of CDE credits that the DANB will allow include:
- Clinical Practice – directly relating to the clinical practice of dental assisting or dentistry – no more than 12 CDEs every two years may be in clinical practice
- DANB and other dental-related certification exams – no more than 12 CDEs every two years may be earned through exams
- Dental Office Management – directly related to office duties that are allowed for dental assistants – no more than 3 CDEs every two years may be in carrying out office duties
- Volunteer service or scholarly activity – must be dental related community volunteer service, or through providing continuing dental education – no more than 3 CDEs every two years may be from volunteer service
Renewal notices are sent to CDAs in the mail by the DANB as CDA renewal time approaches. CDAs are advised to maintain all documentation for CDE they have completed, as the DANB does audit a portion of CDE for CDAs during renewal time.
Nebraska does not require dental assistants to fulfill any continuing education requirements to maintain their jobs, with the exception of maintaining BLS (Basic Life Support) certification.
Working as a Dental Assistant in Nebraska
Nebraska’s Dental Practice Act says that dental assistants may only perform functions and procedures for which the supervising licensed dentist takes full responsibility. Because this is fairly vague, it is noted that all dental assistants at any practice level in Nebraska may perform infection control and occupational safety procedures, as well as other duties not directly spelled out in the Nebraska Dental Practice Act. However, some functions have been determined by the Nebraska Board of Dentistry to be unallowable for dental assistants to perform. They include:
- Chemical curettage
- Any intraoral procedure leading to fabricating a prosthesis
- Any irreversible dental procedure
- Administering local or general anesthetics
- Surgery on soft or hard tissue
- Diagnosis and treatment planning
- Scaling of teeth
- Placing or contouring of a final restoration
Dental assistant jobs in Nebraska are found primarily within dental offices and practices, both solo and multi-dentist. The majority of dental assistant jobs in Nebraska are found within larger cities. A recent search of Nebraska’s classified ads found the following employers posting openings for dental assistant jobs in the state:
- University of Nebraska Medical Center – Omaha
- Nebraska State Government – Lincoln
- Aspen Dental – Omaha
- Heartland Dental, LLC – Bellevue and Papillion
- Panneton Dental Group – Omaha