New Mexico Dental Assistant Requirements

Radiography Requirements

To legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures in New Mexico, a dental assistant must meet the requirements shown below.

Radiography Requirements

A dental assistant must be New Mexico state-certified. To obtain certification, one must:

1. Study by independent preparation or in a training course on radiation health and safety within the past 36 months, AND

2. Have assisted with or observed five cases of full mouth series intraoral radiographs (or five extraoral radiographs, if applying for limited certificate), AND

3. Pass the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam, AND

4. Apply to the NM Board of Dental Health Care for a training permit, valid for six months, AND

5. Pass a state radiography clinical exam, within six months of passing the DANB RHS exam, AND

6. Pass the New Mexico state jurisprudence exam (take-home), AND

7. Apply to the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care for certification to perform radiography.


Learn more about DANB's Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam

Dental Assisting Job Titles and Requirements for Each Level

Dental Assistant

A dental assistant in New Mexico is an individual who may perform basic supportive dental procedures specified by the state dental practice act under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist.

There are no education or training requirements for this level of dental assisting.

Dental Assistant with State Certification in Expanded Functions

To perform expanded functions under the general supervision of a licensed dentist in New Mexico, a dental assistant must earn state certification in each of the desired expanded functions. To qualify, one must:

Rubber cup coronal polishing and application of topical fluoride:
1. Study by independent preparation or in a training course in the functions and assist with/observe five cases of rubber cup coronal polishing on children and adults and five applications of topical fluoride on children, AND

2. Pass DANB’s Coronal Polish (CP) exam and DANB's Topical Fluoride (TF) exam, AND

3. Apply to the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care for advanced certification in coronal polishing and application of topical fluoride, AND

4. Pass the New Mexico Jurisprudence (take-home) exam, AND

5. Pass a clinical exam — perform rubber cup coronal polishing on five adults and children and application of topical fluoride on five children while being personally supervised by a licensed dentist, dental hygienist, or dental assistant certified in rubber cup coronal polishing and application of topical fluoride.

Pit and Fissure Sealants:
1. Have 2,080 hours of dental assisting chairside experience in the two years prior to application, AND

2. Study by independent preparation or in a training course in the function, AND

3. Assist with/observe 12 cases of application of pit and fissure sealants, AND

4. Pass DANB’s Sealants (SE) exam, AND

5. Apply to the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care for advanced certification in pit and fissure sealants, AND

6. Pass the New Mexico Jurisprudence (take-home) exam, AND

7. Pass a clinical exam — apply pit and fissure sealants on five patients while being personally observed by a licensed dentist or dental hygienist.

Note: The DANB Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification automatically qualifies a dental assistant to apply for state certification for each of these expanded functions.

A dental assistant who is certified to perform dental radiography, coronal polishing, pit and fissure sealants, and/or topical fluoride procedures in another state with requirements not less stringent than those in New Mexico may apply for state certification based on credentials (see New Mexico Rules and Regulations, section 16.5.33.13 for details).

Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary (EFDA)

To earn New Mexico certification as an expanded function dental auxiliary (EFDA), one must:

1. Complete an accepted EFDA course in a program approved by the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care or accredited by CODA OR

2a. Complete a minimum of five years, 1000 hours per year, continuous employment as a dental assistant or dental hygienist AND

2b. Complete a course of study in subject areas prescribed by the board, including a post-test approved by the board, AND

2c. Obtain a recommendation for EFDA certification from a supervising dentist AND

2d. Earn state certification in radiography, rubber cup coronal polishing and application of topical fluoride and pit and fissure sealant expanded functions*, AND

3. Pass a clinical exam accepted by the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care for EFDA certification, AND

4. Complete the New Mexico jurisprudence exam with a score of at least 75%, AND

5. Apply for an apprenticeship permit from the NM Board of Dental Health Care, AND

6. Complete an apprenticeship within 180 days, AND

7. Return permit and signed affidavit to New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care, which will then issue EFDA certificate

Note: Holders of state certification in dental assisting expanded functions and EFDAs must have formal training in infection control from a course approved in accordance with New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care rules and regulations.

* Note: A new rule effective 3/13/18 specifies that all current EFDA permit holders must earn the four state certificates in expanded functions no later than 7/1/19. EFDA permits will suspend automatically if the expanded functions certifications are not current, and once they are earned, the EFDA permit will become valid until its regular expiration date

Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC)

New Mexico CDHCs may perform specified preventive, restorative, and palliative procedures under general supervision of a dentist. To qualify, one must:

1. Have a high school diploma or equivalent, or a college degree, AND

2. Have New Mexico certification in radiography, rubber cup coronal polishing and application of topical fluoride and pit and fissure sealant expanded functions (see above for requirements), AND

3. Earn a 75% score on the New Mexico jurisprudence exam, AND

4. Successfully complete a CDHC program approved by the New Mexico Board of Dental Health Care.

Learn more about DANB's Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) certification

Additional Resources

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