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How to Become a Dental Assistant in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services reported that there were 1,531 dental assistants employed in the state as of 2010. By 2020, the Department projects there will be 1,849 dental assistant jobs in New Hampshire, an increase of nearly 21 percent. The Department rates the job growth outlook for this profession as “very favorable” with 64 openings expected for dental assistants in New Hampshire each year during this period.

Dental assistants in New Hampshire are regulated by the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners. The Board is responsible for protecting the public by governing and regulating the practice of dentistry, dental hygiene, and dental assisting in New Hampshire.

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The New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners recognizes four dental assisting professional levels:

  • Dental Assistant: Dental assistants in New Hampshire may perform supportive functions under the general or direct oversight of a licensed dentist. There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.
  • DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA): Dental assistants who are CDA certified through the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) are qualified to perform additional duties. Some duties require CDAs to also possess at least 400 hours of dental assisting experience.
  • Graduate Dental Assistant: Graduate dental assistants are those dental assistants who graduate from a dental assisting program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). They are authorized to perform some advanced functions.
  • Expanded Functions Dental Assistant: Dental assistants in New Hampshire qualified to perform expanded functions must be at least 18 years old and must meet the specific requirements for each function. Expanded function dental assistants may be qualified to perform one or more of the following functions:

    • Preliminary inspection of the oral cavity
    • Infection control in the dental office
    • Provisional crown and bridge restorations
    • Orthodontic duties
    • Dental sealants
    • Coronal polishing
    • Monitoring nitrous oxide administration
    • In-office tooth whitening
  • Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary: Expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA) dental assistants are permitted to place, contour, and adjust direct restorative materials within the oral cavity. These dental assistants must be registered as an EFDA with New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners.
  • Radiographic Procedures: Dental assistants permitted to operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures must be graduate dental assistants and meet specific educational, experiential and certification requirements.

Dental Assisting Schools and Programs in New Hampshire

The completion of a recognized dental assisting program provides a solid foundation for work in dental assisting in New Hampshire, particularly for dental assistants who want to perform advanced functions and achieve advanced professional titles.

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Although there is just one Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA)-accredited dental assisting program in New Hampshire, there is 1 program in Vermont, 1 in Maine, and 8 in Massachusetts. CODA-accredited dental assisting programs may also be offered online.

The vast majority of dental assisting programs are less than a year in duration, although a few institutions offer associate degree programs in dental assisting.

Dental assisting programs may be offered through junior colleges, dental schools, and vocational/technical schools and all culminate in a clinical experience.

Qualifying to Perform Specific Expanded Functions in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners requires dental assistants working in any advanced function and looking to hold an advanced dental assistant title to complete specific actions:

Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) Requirements

New Hampshire recognizes the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential. To earn the DANB CDA credential, dental assistants must take and pass the credential’s three component examinations, which include:

  • General Chairside Assisting
  • Infection Control
  • Radiation Health and Safety

The CDA examinations are administered through Pearson VUE testing centers throughout the U.S. The CDA credential must be renewed annually upon the completion of at least 30 continuing education credits.

Graduate Dental Assistant Requirements – Dental assistants that want to earn the graduate dental assistant title in New Hampshire must graduate from a CODA-accredited dental assisting program.

Expanded Functions Dental Assistant Requirements – Dental assistants performing expanded functions in New Hampshire must be at least 18 years old and meet the specific requirements of each function:

Preliminary inspection of the oral cavity:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; OR
  • Must possess the CDA credential or at least 400 hours of experience; AND
  • Complete a Board-approved course/exam in preliminary inspection of the oral cavity

Infection control in the dental office:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; OR
  • Must complete a Board-approved course/exam in infection control

Dental sealants:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in orthodontic duties; OR
  • Must possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND qualify in preliminary inspection of the oral cavity (see above); AND qualify in infection control (see above); and complete a Board-approved course/exam in dental sealants

Coronal polishing:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; AND possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND complete a Board-approved course in coronal polishing; OR
  • Must possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND qualify in the inspection of the oral cavity (see above); AND qualify in infection control (see above); and complete a Board-approved course in coronal polishing

In-office tooth whitening:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in in-office tooth whitening; OR
  • Possess the CDA certification; OR possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND qualify in infection control (see above); AND qualify in preliminary inspection of the oral cavity (see above); and complete a Board-approved course/exam in in-office tooth whitening

Monitoring nitrous oxide administration:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in nitrous oxide; AND be CPR certified; OR
  • Possess the CDA certification; OR possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND qualify in preliminary inspection of the oral cavity (see above); AND qualify in infection control (see above); AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide anesthesia

Provisional crown and bridge restorations:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant and complete a Board-approved course/exam in provisional crown and bridge restorations; OR
  • Must have at least 400 hours of experience; AND

Qualify in inspection of the oral cavity (see above); AND qualify in infection control (see above); AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in provisional crown and bridge restorations

Orthodontic duties:

  • Must be a graduate dental assistant; AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in orthodontic duties; OR
  • Must hold the CDA certificate; OR
  • Must possess at least 400 hours of experience; AND qualify in preliminary inspection of the oral cavity (see above); AND qualify in infection control (see above); AND complete a Board-approved course/exam in orthodontic duties

Dental Assistant Radiology Requirements

Dental assistants working with dental x-rays and radiographic equipment in New Hampshire must:

  • Be at least 18 years old; AND
  • Be a graduate dental assistant OR complete at least 400 hours of experience; AND
  • Complete an expanded duty course in dental radiology approved by the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners; AND
  • Pass the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Radiation Health and Safety (RSH) OR Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) exam (see Certified Dental Assistant Requirements above)

Expanded function dental auxiliary

Dental assistants who place, adjust, and/or contour direct restorative materials must be registered as an Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA) with the Board. To register, dental assistants must be at least 18 years old AND

  • Be a registered or graduate dental assistant; OR
  • Hold DANB certification and meet requirements; AND possess at least 4,500 hours of experience; AND obtain a recommendation from a New Hampshire dentist AND complete a Board-approved course in dental restorations; AND be CPR certified

Candidates must apply to the Board for an EFDA permit.

Individuals may obtain information on dental assisting regulation and requirements by contacting the New Hampshire Board of Dental Examiners at 603-271-4561 or Dental.Board@nh.gov.

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