What Can Unlicensed Dental Assistants Do in Tennessee?

What Can Unlicensed Dental Assistants Do in Tennessee? Image

Our office receives numerous questions from dental offices inquiring about the scope of duties for dental assistants in Tennessee.  Dental Assistants must practice within the scope of duties outlined by Tennessee Rules governing the practice of dental assistants.  The dental assistant is required to stay up to date on these rules and maintain a current license and certifications. You may renew at www.tennesseeanytime.org

The below information is a guideline adapted from RULES GOVERNING THE PRACTICE OF DENTAL ASSISTANTS as set forth by the Tennessee Board of Dentistry.  Please visit the website at http://www.state.tn.us/sos/rules/0460/0460-04.20120319.pdf

Practical Assistant: The practical dental assistant is receiving practical chair side dental assisting training from a licensed dentist or is a dental assistant student in an educational institution accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the ADA. Scope of Duties:  The practical dental assistant must be under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. The practical dental assistant may not invade the practice procedures reserved for RDA’s or RDH’s.

Coronal Polishing:  The RDA with coronal polishing certification may polish the enamel and restorations on the clinical crown of human teeth by utilizing a combination of a polishing agent and a slow speed handpiece, a prophy angle, a rubber cup or any home care cleaning device.

Nitrous Oxide:  The RDA must maintain nitrous oxide certification.  RDA’s with nitrous oxide certification shall only monitor patients under the direct supervision of a licensed TN dentist.  The RDA shall not monitor more than one patient at a time and shall physically remain with the patient at all times.  The RDA is not permitted to administer nitrous oxide.  The assistant is only permitted to adjust the dosage or terminate the nitrous oxide at the specific direction and under the protocol of the supervising dentist or in cases of patient distress.

Sealant Application Certification:  The RDA with the certification may only practice sealant application under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. The Dentist must examine the patient immediately before and after sealant application to determine the need and evaluate the results of sealant application.

Dental Radiology Certification: The RDA with radiology certification may expose dental radiographs under the direct supervision of a dentist.

Restorative and Prosthetic Certifications (EFDA):  The RDA with restorative and/or prosthetic functions certification may perform expanded restorative or prosthetic functions on any patient under the direct supervision and full responsibility of a licensed dentist.

Prohibited Procedures:  Please note the prohibited procedures:  Restorative:  Diagnosing of need for restorations, preparation/cutting of tooth or soft tissue; modifying existing structure; removal of caries, bases and liners; and use of high speed handpieces intraorally.  Prosthetic:  Diagnosing need for any prosthetic appliance, establishing vertical dimension of occlusion and interocclusal records, delivering and/or adjusting appliance; and the use of high-speed handpieces intraorally.


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