How to Become a Dental Assistant in New Mexico

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How to Become a Dental Assistant in New Mexico

The demand for dental assistants in New Mexico is expected to increase over the next few years.

In this state, the profession is regulated by the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care who sets standards for the education of future dental assistants, as well as issuing and maintaining licenses.

Dental Assistant Levels

In New Mexico, these specialists can work on 2 levels:

  • Dental assistant
  • Dental assistant with expanded functions

For the first level, the dental assistant will work under the supervision of a dentist and is not required to complete formal training.

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For the second level, certification is mandatory, and it can be obtained in a number of functions that include:

  • Applying topical fluoride
  • Applying rubber cup coronal polishing
  • Applying pit and fissure sealants
  • Expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA)
  • Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC)
  • Radiography

Dental Assistant Training Programs

Graduating from a dental assisting program is the best route to become an assistant with expanded functions in the dental field.

Individuals who got their Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) credential are qualified to apply for one of the following certifications:

  • Application of topical fluoride and rubber cup coronal polishing
  • Pit and fissures sealants
  • Radiography

For the CDA exam can only be taken by those who:

  • have 3,500 hours of professional experience in dental assisting; OR
  • graduated from Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) – accredited program

Those who completed the dental assistant program that was approved by CODA can become a dental assistant with expanded functions.

These programs last for up to a year and there are several institutions offering them, such as vocational or technical colleges and dental schools among others.

Future professionals have the possibility of earning an associate degree in dental assisting, though these programs last for 2 years.

These training programs not only offer the necessary knowledge but also plenty of hands-on experience, in a clinic.

School NameAddress
Carrington College-Albuquerque1001 Menaul Blvd NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87107-1642
Central New Mexico Community College525 Buena Vista SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106
Luna Community CollegeHot Springs Blvd, Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701
Pima Medical Institute-Albuquerque4400 Cutler Avenue NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
University of New Mexico-Taos Campus1157 County Road 110, Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico 87557

Performing Specific Expanded Functions

Those who want to earn more and have more employment options should consider getting certified for one or more of the extended functions.

Application of topical fluoride and rubber cup coronal polishing

The requirements for these extended functions are:

  • Achieve the CDA credential through DANB; OR
  • Complete a training course while assisting the process on 5 adults and children; AND
  • Pass the test; AND
  • Perform each action 5 times under supervision.


A CDA credential allows dental assistants to operate x-ray machines or perform various x-ray procedures.

However, there are other ways of entering this niche, by meeting these requirements:

  • finishing a training course on radiation health and safety within the past 3 years; AND
  • help with 5 full mouth x-ray cases
  • pass the tests administered by the Board and the one administered through DANB
  • apply for a permit
  • pass the clinical exam at the state level.

Pit and Fissure Sealants

If the candidates don’t already have the CDA credential through DANB for this function, they can also meet the following requirements.

  • accumulate 2,080 hours of chairside dental assisting in the past two years; AND
  • complete a training course for pit and fissure sealants, AND
  • observe 12 applications of pit and fissure sealants on kids and adults, AND
  • pass the sealant test and the practical exam on 5 patients, under the supervision of a dentist.

Expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA)

For this position, candidates have to complete a related training course that was approved by CODA.

In its stead, the candidate can accumulate a total of 5 years of experience with 1000 hours per year as a dental assistant or hygienist, along with a certification in:

  • Radiography
  • Application of topical fluoride and rubber cup coronal polishing
  • Pit and fissure sealant; AND

Furthermore, a course and exam prescribed by the Board in New Mexico, an approved apprenticeship of 180 days,  a clinical examination approved by the Board, along with recommendations from a Community dental health coordinator and a supervising dentist for EFDA certification, are also needed.

CDHC Dental Assistant

With a certification as a CDHC dental assistant in New Mexico, the professional can perform certain procedures.

For this, they need certifications for:

  • x-ray operations
  • Application of topical fluoride and rubber cup coronal polishing
  • Pit and fissure sealant, AND
  • Proof they completed a CDHC program approved by the Board
  • Fill out an application

The application can be done by using their credentials or by passing an examination.

The application costs $50 and must be accompanied by a passport-sized photo.

Other Information

Licenses have to be renewed every 3 years, and professionals have June 30 as a renewal date deadline.

To renew a license, 30 hours of continuing education are also needed, and there are several ways to meet this requirement:

  • self-study
  • webinars
  • online classes

Becoming a member of a professional association is a good idea for networking and more employment opportunities.

The number of certifications a person has in this field will influence how much they earn.

Annual Salary Range:
Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Las Cruces$32,047
Rio Rancho$35,336
Santa Fe$35,629

USA Dental Assisting by State

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