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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Oregon

Although becoming a basic dental assistant in Oregon does not come with state-mandated requirements beyond those set by individual employers, many of the 4,550 dental assistants working in the state choose to earn the credentials necessary to perform advanced functions.

Employers often show preference to or require that job candidates hold one or more of these certifications:

  • Radiologic Proficiency Certification
  • Expanded Function General Dental Assistant Certification
  • Expanded Function Orthodontic Dental Assistant Certification
  • Anesthesia Dental Assistant Certification
  • Restorative Functions Certification

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There are several ways of obtaining these certifications, all of which involve going through one of the following agencies:

Basic Dental Assistant Requirements and Scope of Practice

Under state law, basic dental assistants in Oregon need not meet requirements beyond those set by employers. According to Oregon law, dental assistants must work under the supervision of a dentist to support the work performed by dentists themselves, as well as dental hygienists and dental technicians.

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The basic dental assistant job description in Oregon can include any of the following duties:

  • Operatory infection control and instrument preparation
  • Instrument tray preparation
  • Scheduling patient appointments
  • Dental practice record and supply maintenance
  • Post-treatment care
  • Instruction of patients on the proper methods of oral hygiene
  • Duties allowed for by advanced certifications

Radiologic Proficiency Certification

Dental assistants who have this certification are permitted to:

  • Place x-ray film
  • Adjust equipment that is preparatory to exposing x-ray film
  • Expose x-ray film

There are several ways candidates can become eligible for the Radiologic Proficiency Certification:

  • Through the Oregon Board of Dentistry with one of the following:
    • By holding an X-Ray Certification from another state’s dental board
    • By having at least 1,000 hours of recent experience conducting duties in a different state that are similar to those allowed for by the Radiologic Proficiency Certification
  • Through the Dental Assisting National Board by completing the following:
    • Complete a course of study that is approved by the Dental Assisting National Board, or completing a dental assistant training program in Oregon or out-of-state that is approved by the American Dental Association – there are six of these dental assistant schools in Oregon, located in:

      •  Albany
      •  Bend
      •  Eugene
      •  Pendleton
      •  Portland
      • Salem
    • Pass the Radiation Health and Safety Exam, sponsored by the Dental Assisting National Board
    • Successfully develop and mount at least 18 full-mouth x-rays under the supervision of a licensed professional in Oregon

Expanded Function General Dental Assistant Certification

Dental assistants with this certification are allowed to perform the following activities:

  • Polish the coronal surfaces of teeth
  • Remove temporary crowns and clean teeth in preparation for final cementation
  • Preliminarily fit crowns
  • Place temporary restorative material into teeth
  • Place and remove matrix retainers
  • Polish composite surfaces or amalgam with a slow-speed handpiece
  • Perform teeth whitening procedures

There are a number of pathways through which candidates can become eligible for this certification:

  • Through the Oregon Board of Dentistry with one of the following:
    • By holding a similar certification from another state
    • By having at least 1,000 hours of recent experience conducting duties in a different state that are similar to those allowed for by the Expanded Function General Certification
  • Through the Dental Assisting National Board:
    • By holding a current Radiologic Proficiency Certificate from the Oregon Board of Dentistry and by completing one of the following two pathways:

      • Pathway 1:
      • Pathway 2:
        • Pass the Certified Dental Assistant Exam or Basic Exam, administered by the Dental Assisting National Board
        • Pass the Expanded Function Dental Assistant Exam, administered by the Dental Assisting National Board
        • Apply for the Expanded Function General Certification (includes an application for the Oregon Basic Exam and Expanded Function Dental Exam
        • Complete a proficiency certification administered by a licensed Oregon dentist

Expanded Function Orthodontic Dental Assistant Certification

Dental assistants with this certification are permitted to perform the following duties:

  • Remove orthodontic brackets, bands, material, appliances, or cement with instruments such as a slow-speed handpiece
  • Select and try the fitting of orthodontic bands
  • Remove and place orthodontic separators
  • Prepare teeth for the placement or bonding of orthodontic appliances
  • Adjust and fit headgear
  • Remove and replace orthodontic wires, archwires, chains, and elastic ligatures
  • Take impressions for study models and temporary oral devices such as space maintainers, retainers, and occlusal guards

There are several pathways candidates can take to become eligible for this certification:

  • Through the Oregon Board of Dentistry with either of the following:
    • By holding a similar certification from another state
    • By having at least 1,000 hours of recent experience conducting duties in a different state that are similar to those allowed for by the Expanded Function Orthodontic Certification
  • Through the Dental Assisting National Board by completing one of the following pathways:

Anesthesia Dental Assistant Certification

Dental assistants with this certification are allowed to:

  • Administer medication into an existing intravenous (IV) line to a patient who is sedated
  • Administer emergency medication to a patient to assist a licensed professional in dealing with an emergent situation
  • Dispense oral medication that has been prepared by a supervising dentist

Dental assistants with an Anesthesia Certification may also initiate an IV line for patients if they have completed a course in intravenous access or phlebotomy that has been approved by the Oregon Board of Dentistry.

Candidates interested in obtaining this certification may do so by completing the following:

After completing these eligibility requirements candidates will still need to submit a final application to the Oregon Board of Dentistry.

Restorative Functions Certification

This certification will allow dental assistants to place and finish direct alloy or direct composite after preparing a tooth for such.

To be eligible for this certification candidates must meet the following requirements and apply through the Oregon Board of Dentistry:

Applying for Advanced Certifications

Candidates who would like to apply for advanced dental assistant certifications through the Oregon Board of Dentistry should send the appropriate application to the Oregon Board of Dentistry at the address indicated on the application:

Candidates who would like to apply for advanced dental assistant certification by going through the Dental Assisting National Board or the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons will find the necessary application links in each respective certification section.

Upon receiving advanced certifications, professionals will be prepared to competitively pursue dental assistant jobs in Oregon.

In addition to the non-profit organizations already mentioned that sponsor education and additional dental assistant credentials, candidates can also find pertinent information with the Oregon Dental Assistants Association (ODAA).

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