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How to Become a Dental Assistant in Texas

Texas’s booming population and growing interest in dental health are fueling the demand for dental assistants across the state. Those who have the best advantage have quality training programs under their belt, giving them access to better opportunities and salaries. As a dental assistant in Texas, you’ll enjoy perks like working regular hours and even setting your schedule.

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One of the biggest perks of starting a dental assistant career is that you don’t have to study for several years like most healthcare professions. All you need to get started is training from a licensed dentist and a passion for learning more about dentistry.

Despite the perks and benefits, you must have an unwavering sense of duty and genuine care for others. Although dental assisting is a relatively straightforward way to break into the dentistry field, it doesn’t undermine its importance. On the contrary, a dental assistant is an invaluable member of any dental team. That is because they are vital to maintaining efficiency in a dental office.

What does a dental assistant do?

As a dental assistant, you play an essential role during dental procedures. Furthermore, you are also in charge of getting the office to run smoothly. With an entry-level position, you will be in charge of both administrative and primary duties. Some of the tasks you will likely perform include:

  • Assisting dentists during procedures
  • Scheduling appointments and picking up calls
  • Sensitizing patients on dental hygiene
  • Providing patient care
  • Recording medical history
  • Ordering dental supplies and inventories 
  • Scheduling appointments

You can also carry out extended functions under the supervision of a licensed dentist. But you must meet the requirement for this position first. Extended functions you can perform as a dental assistant include:

  • Assisting with and monitoring nitrous oxide analgesia
  • Operating X-ray equipment
  • Application of fluoride varnish
  • Coronal polishing
  • Placement of pits and fissure sealants
  • Applying topical anesthetic
  • Taking digital scan impressions


The state laws restrict dental assistants from handling some tasks. It is considered illegal and is punishable by lawSome of these functions include:

  • Removal of calculus
  • Placement of any final restoration deposits or accretions 
  • Taking an impression for the final restoration, appliance, or prosthesis
  • Smoothing and polishing of roughened root surfaces or exposed human teeth
  • Comprehensive examination or diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Surgical or cutting procedure on hard or soft tissue
  • Prescription of drug, medication, or work authorization
  • Making an intraoral occlusal adjustment
  • Any other act prohibited by board rule.

Types of Dental Assistants Recognized in Texas

The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) recognizes 3types of dental assistants:

  1. Dental assistant (which is the entry-level position),
  2. Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) and
  3. Expanded Functions Dental Assistant (EFDA).

To start as a dental assistant in Texas, you don’t need any special training. You only need a high school certificate and a licensed dentist ready to train you. You may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. These functions include:

  • The provision of interim treatment of a minor emergency dental condition to an existing patient under orally given or written instruction of a licensed dentist
  • Applying fluoride varnish

Registered dental assistants and expanded functions dental assistants, on the other hand, can handle more responsibilities. As a result, they also earn more than dental assistants. Although to perform these duties, you’ll need to acquire training and permits approved by the board.

Below are your duties as a registered dental assistant or an expanded functions dental assistant:

Registered Dental Assistant (RDA)

As an RDA in Texas, you can carry out the following functions under the direct or general supervision of a licensed dentist:

  • All functions of a dental assistant
  • Expose radiographs
  • Perform infection control and occupational safety procedures

Dental assistant qualified to perform expanded functions (EFDA)

Under the direct or indirect supervision of a licensed dentist, you can perform the following functions as an EFDA in Texas:

  • All tasks performed by a dental assistant and a registered dental assistant
  • Coronal polishing 
  • Apply pit and fissure sealants, including the use of a rubber prophylaxis cup 
  • Apply appropriate polishing materials to cleanse the occlusal and smooth surfaces of teeth to be sealed.
  • Prepare teeth for application of orthodontic bonding resins
  • Monitor nitrous oxide

Requirements for Dental Assistants in Texas

There are some requirements you must follow before you can work as an RDA or EFDA. Below are the requirements demanded by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Registered Dental Assistant

As a dental assistant in Texas, to perform an RDA duty, the TSBDE requires that you must:

  1. Graduate from an accredited high school or hold a GED, 
  2. Complete a current hands-on course in Basic Life Support (BLS)
  3. Complete a TSBDE-approved mandatory course of training that includes procedures for positioning and exposing dental x-rays, jurisprudence, and infection control.
  4. Earn the national DANB CDA certification 
  5. Complete the Texas Jurisprudence Assessment
  6. Apply to the TSBDE for registration
  7. Submit fingerprints for the retrieval of criminal record information.

To get the permit to monitor the administration of nitrous oxide as a registered dental assistant in Texas, you must:

  1. Complete an 8 hours CODA-Accredited dental, dental hygiene, or dental assisting program on didactic education and
  2. Take a test on monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide approved by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE)
  3. Complete a current course in Basic Life Support
  4. Apply to the TSBDE for a nitrous oxide monitoring certificate

Dental Assistant Qualified to Perform Expanded Functions

The Texas state board of dental assistants issues three certificates to perform expanded functions:

Here are what is required to gain a permit for performing these functions:

Coronal Polishing Procedure

To perform this function as an EFDA in Texas, you must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 8 hours of didactic education
  2. Pass a test on monitoring the administration of nitrous oxide taken through a CODA-accredited dental, dental hygiene, or dental assisting program, approved by the TSBDE
  3. Complete a current course in Basic Life Support
  4. Apply to the TSBDE for a nitrous oxide monitoring certificate

Placement of Pit and Fissure Sealants

As an EFDA in Texas, to gain a permit for performing this task from the TSBDE, you must:

  1. Have worked for at least two years as a dental assistant
  2. Complete a current course in Basic Life Support
  3. Complete a minimum of eight hours of Texas Board-approved clinical and didactic education in pit and fissure sealants taken through a CODA-Accredited dental, dental hygiene, or dental assistant program and approved by the TSBDE

Radiographic Procedures

To legally operate x-rays and perform radiographic procedures in Texas, you must be a registered dental assistant.

Note that you will not be considered to carry out dental x-rays if you only perform this procedure in the course of training (or for other educational purposes). For example, as a dental assistant performing radiological procedures in on-the-job training, you may only do so for one year.

Dental Assistant Schools in Texas

If you are looking to obtain expanded functions, you will have to get formal training in specific courses for such roles.

Attending a dental assisting school and acquiring certificates for expanded functions will increase your chance of employment.

There are about 9 CODA-accredited schools in Texas. Texas also has other colleges and institutions that offer dental assistant programs. Here are CODA-accredited schools you can attend:

Amarillo College

Amarillo College
Amarillo College

Amarillo College, Amarillo

This dental assistant school offers core dental assistant coursework with courses in dental radiology, dental lab procedures, knowledge of dental materials, effective communication, and office management. A good percentage of your training will be practical work at dental offices.

Del Mar College, Corpus Christi

This dental assistant school offers a one-year dental assisting program that runs from August to August each year. Upon successful completion of the Dental Assisting courses, you will:

  • Earn a Certificate of Achievement and
  • Be eligible to take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination given by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) and
  • Be eligible to take the Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) exam administered by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE)

Your coursework entails completing a clinical practicum at a dentist’s office planned in consultation with the faculty, dentist, and student.

Tyler Junior College, Tyler

A CDA certificate program is offered at this dental assistant school. You will get exposed to dental assistant training, lectures, lab sessions, and clinical training. That will make you proficient in assisting the dentist in routine diagnostic, operative, administrative, and lab procedures.

Other CODA-accredited dental assistant schools include:

Other dental assistant schools in Texas are also worth considering; they include:

Altierus Career College, Houston

This dental assistant school offers a nine-monthly training program to high school students. The program gives students the primary knowledge they need for dental assistant coursework like

  1. dental radiography,
  2. dental anatomy and orthodontics,
  3. lab procedures, and
  4. other courses related to dental office administration.

Texas State Technical College,  Abilene

This dental assistant school offers a dental assistant program to students with a high school diploma or GED. After completing the program, you will be eligible for the certified dental assistant exam.

You will get trained in dental anatomy and physiology courses, infection control in dentistry, and dental radiology.

Other options:

For a comprehensive online dental assistant training program, you can apply at Penn Foster at your convenience.

We have specific guides and dental assistant school reviews for the cities of ArlingtonAustinCorpus ChristiDallasEl PasoFort WorthHoustonLaredo, Lubbock, Plano, and San Antonio.

License and Certification

Certifications are good qualifications you should earn as a dental assistant to increase your chance of employment. With necessary certifications and permits, you will be able to take on expanded functions.

Here are a few choices you should pursue:

Salary Expectation

Averagely, a dental assistant in Texas earns about $32,33 per year and $15.69 per hour. You should know that these earnings differ based on factors such as location, employer, and experience. Top earners in Texas earn about $40,314 in a year but should look to make about $34,441 and more with experience.

Dental assistants in top cities such as Pasadena earn about $38,579 in a year and $18.50 per hour. Consider working in cities like Pearland and Mesquite, which pay $37,129 and $36,928, respectively.

Future Career Outlook

Texas Workforce Commission states that there were 27,930 dental assistants employed in Texas, with a 27.5% chance of increase in coming years. In addition, dental assistants in Texas earn higher than workers in other healthcare support occupations.

Top cities such as Pasadena have a very active dental assistant job market as several companies are currently hiring for this type of role. So, look for employment in top cities like Houston, Pasadena, Pearland, Plano, and Port Arthur.

As a dental assistant in Texas, acquiring certifications such as CDA and attending a CODA-accredited school will help you get a job faster. It can also help with increasing your starting salary.

You can also work as a dental sales representative, medical billing/coding specialist, or dental laboratory technician.


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