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How to Become a Dental Assistant in South Dakota

While the South Dakota Board of Dentistry does not require dental assistants to meet any specific education, licensure, or certification requirements, these qualifications are necessary for those who would like to work in the following expanded capacities:

  • Advanced Dental Assistant – requires an Advanced Dental Assistant registration

    • Administration of nitrous oxide – requires the Advanced Dental Assistant credential and a specialized permit
    • Monitoring anesthetic or analgesic agents – requires the Advanced Dental Assistant credential and a specialized permit
  • Administration of an intravenous line – requires special permission
  • Radiology and x-rays – requires registration

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Qualifying to Become a Dental Assistant in South Dakota

All dental assistants in South Dakota must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Having these qualifications will allow dental assistants to perform procedures and duties that are incidental to patient treatment.

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Procedures that may not be performed by a dental assistant include:

  • Cutting of soft or hard tissue
  • Intraoral procedures that preclude the fabrication of a dental prosthesis
  • Procedures that are irreversible
  • Injection of medications
  • Procedures which are allocated to dental hygienists

Advanced Dental Assistants – These professionals are permitted to carry out expanded duties under the supervision of a dentist. These duties can include:

  • Any duties assigned to a dental assistant
  • Administration of nitrous oxide
  • Application of anesthetics or analgesics

Candidates can become an Advanced Dental Assistant by having a CPR certification and qualifying through one of the following routes:

  • Graduate from a dental assisting training program that is accredited by the American Dental Association; there is one such dental assisting training program in South Dakota located in Watertown
  • Pass an exam that is approved by the South Dakota Board of Dentistry, such as the Certified Dental Assisting (CDA) Exam through the Dental Assisting National Board
  • Already hold an equivalent credential in another state

Once candidates have qualified they will need to register to become an Advanced Dental Assistant with the South Dakota State Board of Dentistry. A complete application will include:

  • $40 application fee
  • Copy of high school diploma or GED
  • Copy of a current CPR certification from either:
  • Proof of eligibility through one of the three routes

When fulfilling a CPR requirement, prospective dental assistants should remember that the South Dakota Board of Dentistry only recognizes the following:

Option for Nitrous Oxide Administration – Advanced Dental Assistants have the option of applying for a permit from the South Dakota Board of Dentistry to administer nitrous oxide to patients. To be eligible for this permit, Advanced Dental Assistants must:

  • Submit a copy of current CPR certification
  • Pay a $40 application fee
  • Complete an education course in nitrous oxide that is approved by the South Dakota Board of Dentistry
  • Complete an Application to Administer Nitrous Oxide

Option for a Permit to Monitor Anesthetic or Analgesic Agents – Advanced Dental Assistants also have the option of applying for a permit from the South Dakota Board of Dentistry that will allow them to monitor patients who are anesthetized in moderate to deep sedation, or under the analgesic effects of nitrous oxide. To qualify, candidates will need to:

  • Hold a current CPR certification
  • Complete a course that is at least eight hours dealing with anesthesia assisting
  • Complete an Application for a Monitoring Permit from the south Dakota Board of Dentistry

Note that taking the anesthesia assisting course will also meet one of the conditions for permission to establish an intravenous line.

Option for Permission for Intravenous Line Administration – Dental assistants and Advanced Dental Assistants have the option of becoming qualified to start an intravenous line in patients. To do this candidates must take an approved course in anesthesia assisting and intravenous lines.

Radiography Requirements – In order to be eligible to take x-rays and work with other radiological aspects of dental assisting, candidates must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and meet one of the following conditions:

  • Complete a radiological seminar course that is at least 16 hours and approved by the South Dakota Board of Dentistry. This will include studying:

    • Placement and exposure of radiographs
    • Fundamentals of radiation safety
    • Familiarization with x-ray and radiological equipment
    • Film processing
    • Oral cavity anatomy and radiological positioning
    • Federal and state regulations
  • Earn a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential from the Dental Assisting National Board
  • Hold and equivalent credential from a different state that has similar standards to those of South Dakota

Once candidates have met the eligibility requirements they will be ready to fill out a Dental Radiographer Application for submission to the South Dakota Board of Dentistry.

Maintaining Dental Assistant Qualifications

The Advanced Dental Assistant registration expires every year on July 1st, and can be renewed on or before this date by paying a $20 renewal fee and submitting proof of a current CPR certification. Every five years these professionals must also attest to having attained at least 60 hours of continuing education that advances their knowledge of advanced dental assisting duties. Continuing education for Advanced Dental Assistants is awarded as follows:

  • Five hours for the attendance of regional, state, or national meetings
  • One hour for each lecture hour attended at dental meetings
  • CPR class time counts as continuing education

Maximum amounts of continuing education by subject required each five-year cycle are as follows:

  • Up to 15 hours for nutrition
  • Up to 10 hours for practice management
  • Up to 30 hours for home course study
  • Up to 15 hours for CPR classes

A radiology license also expires every year by July 1st and must be renewed on or before this date. Every five years a registered radiologist professional must earn at least five hours of continuing education in subjects such as:

  • Radiation safety
  • Equipment operation
  • Film processing
  • Emergency procedures
  • Anatomy and positioning
  • Radiographic quality control
  • Recognition and identification of radiographic information

Pursuing Dental Assisting Jobs in South Dakota

The 840 dental assistants working in South Dakota were concentrated in places like:

  • 290 dental assistants in Sioux Falls
  • 200 dental assistants in the eastern South Dakota non-metropolitan area
  • 170 dental assistants in Rapid City
  • 150 dental assistants in the Sioux City greater metropolitan area
  • 80 dental assistants in the central non-metropolitan area of the state
  • 80 dental assistants in the western non-metropolitan area of the state

Candidates can gain a sense of what employers are looking for by examining a survey of some of the most recent employment ads in the state seeking dental assistants:

  • An endodontic office in Sioux City recently posted a dental assistant job description that specified the following qualifications:

    • Recent graduate from a dental assistant program
    • Prior work experience preferred
    • Dependable and willing to work as part of a team
  • A dental office on the west side of Sioux Falls was recently seeking a Certified Dental Assistant to fill a vacancy.
  • Another dental office in Sioux Falls was recently looking for a dental assistant with a positive attitude and a willingness to be trained. Candidates with prior work experience were preferred.

As candidates research how to become a dental assistant in South Dakota, they may also consider additional informative resources that can be found through local professional organizations such as the South Dakota Dental Association (SDDA).

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