How to Become a Dental Assistant in Arkansas

Being a dental assistant is not essentially a very hard job.

However, to be an assistant in the dental office is not a joke.

Even though specific training is not obligatory, there are certain procedures that require a certification.

Dental Assistants in Arkansas in Numbers

According to The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, 3,445 dental assistants are going to be working in the state of Arkansas by the end of 2018.

This is an increase from last year with a 35 percent growth.

Around 133 job opening will be available per year in Arkansas.

To perform some procedures such as coronal polishing, sedation monitoring, dental radiography, and monitoring and administering nitrous oxide, dental assistants will need to be registered or to have a permit to do these procedures.

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There are currently 2,713 dental assistants in the state of Arkansas that are registered.

Since the RDA gives the individual the right to practice some expanded duties, there are a lot of RDAs holders.

This is the current number:

  • 2,657 have a Radiography permit
  • 1,998 have a Nitrous permit
  • 2,410 have a Polishing permit
  • 45 have a Sedation monitoring permit

According to the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services in 2008 dental offices were the larger employer (about 1,148) of dental assistants.

About 96 percent of the dental assistants in the state of Arkansas were employed in a dental office.

How to Become a Dental Assistant?

There are currently two programs in dental assisting in the state of Arkansas that are accredited by the CODA (Commission on Dental Assisting).

By completing such program individuals will be eligible to perform specific duties, as well as achieve the RDA credential.

Programs accredited by the CODA usually last between 9 and 11 months and include clinical experience.

These courses are offered in vocational, technical and dental schools, as well as junior and community colleges.

Almost every program includes lectures in both clinical and administrative aspects that are essential to the dental profession.

These aspects may include the following:

  • Communication with patience
  • Managing the dental office
  • Disinfecting dental tools

Requirements for Dental Assistants in Arkansas

It is nor mandatory to be a registered dental assistant.

However, many dental assistants prefer to get registered, because that allows them to perform expanded duties and increase their employment opportunities.

In order to become RDAs in the state of Arkansas, individuals must hold a CDA (Certified Dental Assistant) certificate, approved by the DANB (Dental Assisting National Board), or graduate from a CODA-accredited program.

Students must sign up for an application called the Application for Registration of Dental Assistants.

After the registration of the application, an exam will be mailed by the Board.

The exam must be passed with a minimum of 75 percent in order for the candidate to be eligible to be registered.

When the credential is achieved students can receive a permit or expanded duty privileges.

Certification and Training Programs in Arkansas

Dental assistants who are not registered, but want to perform expanded duties such as the listed below, must complete specific courses and exams.

Expanded duties requiring a certification:

  • Administration and monitoring of nitrous oxide
  • Sedation monitoring
  • Coronal Polishing
  • Dental Radiography

Registered dental assistants in the state of Arkansas can perform expanded duties after achieving permits for them.

They must complete an Expanded Duties Add-On for Registered Dental Assistants application administered by the Arkansas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Those who already became RDA in the state after completion of a CODA-approved program, or by receiving a CDA credential, are allowed to execute expanded duties.

Sedation monitoring makes an exception when it comes to expanded duties because it requires an additional course.

How Much Does a Dental Assistant Earn in Arkansas?

Annual base salary of a dental assistant by area:

Annual Salary by Location:
LocationAvg. Annual Salary
Bentonville,AR$32,365
Conway,AR$33,558
Fayetteville,AR$32,628
Fort Smith,AR$31,562
Jacksonville,AR$33,842
Jonesboro,AR$34,235
Little Rock,AR$33,886
Pine Bluff,AR$32,631
Rogers,AR$32,431
Springdale,AR$32,628
Texarkana,AR$33,229

Additional options for Non-Registered Dental Assistants

Even if a dental assistant is not registered he or she can receive a permit for performing expanded duties.

Requirements for performing nitrous oxide monitoring and administration:

  • Take and pass a course for Nitrous Oxide by one of the approved by the Board instructors (Find their names here – https://www.asbde.org/dental-assistants)
  • Have a CPR certification
  • Pass the Arkansas jurisprudence exam

Requirements for performing dental radiography:

  • Have a certificate after a successful completion of a radiography program that is Board-approved
  • Have a CPR certification
  • Pass the Arkansas jurisprudence exam

Requirements for performing coronal polishing:

  • Have a certificate after a successful completion of a coronal polishing program that is Board-approved
  • Have a CPR certification
  • Pass the Arkansas jurisprudence exam

Requirements for performing sedation monitoring:

  • Have a permit in nitrous oxide administration and monitoring
  • Complete the DAANCE (Dental Anesthesia Assistant National Certification) course successfully.
  • Have a CPR certification
  • To be completed by a maxillofacial or oral surgeon

The DAANCE course has two parts, including a 36 hours self-study lectures and a final exam.

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DANB-Approved Certification Options

After a successful completion of a CODA-accredited course, some dental assistants choose to obtain a national certification approved by the DANB.

The standard form of certification is the CDA and includes three exams:

  • ICE (Infection Control)
  • GC (General Chairside Assisting)
  • RHS (Radiation Health and Safety)

These are not time-limited, but in order to obtain a CDA certification individuals must complete them in 5 years.

The exams can be done through Pearson VUE.

More DANB certification options:

  • CRFDA (Certified Restorative Functions Dental Assistant)
  • CPFDA (Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant)
  • COA (Certified Orthodontic Assistant)

DANB-accredited certifications have to be renewed every year.

Information regarding other courses accredited by the DANB can be found on the official website of the Dale Foundation, which is an official DANB affiliate.

Courses available by the Dale Foundation includes:

  • Radiation Health and Safety
  • Infection Control
  • General Chairside
  • Anatomy, Morphology and Physiology
  • Coronal Polish
  • Expanded Functions
  • Orthodontic Assisting
  • Dental Office Management

Dos and Don’ts of a Dental Assistant in Arkansas

Dental assistants in the state of Arkansas are not allowed to do:

  • Scale
  • Plan roots
  • Curettage
  • Place orthodontic brackets
  • Place, seat, and remove permanent restorations
  • Place, seat, and remove of final restorations
  • Plan treatment
  • Cutting/surgical procedures on hard tissue
  • Cutting/surgical procedures on soft tissue
  • Any kind of drug administration, including inhalation, prescription, parenteral and injection
  • Procedures resulting in irreversible alteration of the oral anatomy
  • Use any kind of polishers and scalers, including ultrasonic, sonic, powered or air-driven electric
  • Perform oral examinations
  • Oral prophylaxis
  • Administer medicines into the periodontal pockets
  • Administer medicines into the sulcus

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