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Allowable Duties of Registered Dental Assistants in Extended Functions

Law and regulation specifically define the duties that a Registered Dental Assistant in Extended Functions (RDAEF) is allowed to perform, the level of dentist supervision required, and the settings in which the duties may be performed. It is a criminal offense to perform illegal functions, as well as grounds for license discipline of both the person performing the illegal function and any person who aid or abets such illegal activity.

The duties that RDAEFs are allowed to performed are specified in Section 1087 and 1089 of the regulations.

Following are frequently asked questions about allowable duties:

  • May RDAEF's place tetracycline cord?
    • Current regulations do not allow the placement of tetracycline cord by RDAEFs. This issue has been considered by both COMDA and the Board at past meetings, and there are no plans to amend current regulations to allow the performance of this procedure by auxiliaries.
  • Who may place fluoride varnishes?
    • A fluoride varnish is considered a non-toxic topical agent, and can therefore be placed by an unlicensed dental assistant, as well as all categories of RDAs and RDAEFs.
  • May RDAEFs use slow or high-speed handpieces?
    • The use of an slow-speed or high-speed handpieces by auxiliaries is not specifically prohibited by law or regulation, except that (1) those certified to perform coronal polishing are limited to using "an appropriation rotary instrument with rubber cap or brush and a polishing agent" (Regulation Section 1067(h); and (2) the procedure is not intended to cut hard or soft tissue.
    • However, law also prohibits dental personnel from performing any service which they are not competent to perform, or which is not in accordance with customs and standards of the dental profession, as provided in Section 1684 of the Dental Practice Act:
      • "1684. In addition to other acts constituting unprofessional conduct under this chapter, it is unprofessional conduct for a person licensed under this chapter to perform, or hold himself or herself out as able to perform, professional services beyond the scope of his or her license and field or fields of competence as established by his or her education, experience, training, or any combination thereof. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of any instrument or device in a manner that is not in accordance with the customary standards and practices of the dental profession..."
    • Therefore, it is up to the practitioner and his or her employer to assure that the above requirements are fully met before using a device to avoid disciplinary and/or criminal action.
  • May RDAEFs administer anesthesia, or insert or remove IV lines?
    • No RDAEF may insert IV lines, administer anesthesia and medicines via the IV, and or remove IV lines, unless the person possesses another license (such as R.N. or L.V.N.) that allows them to perform such duties.
    • While Regulation Section 1085 allows DA's to perform such basic supportive procedures as extra-oral duties, the "extra-oral" duties of inserting IV lines, administering anesthesia, or removing such lines do not meet the definition of a "basic supportive procedure" which is defined in Regulation Section 1067(l) as:
      • "Basic supportive dental procedures" means fundamental duties or functions which may be performed by an unlicensed dental assistant under the supervision of a licensed dentist because of their technically elementary characteristics, complete reversibility and inability to precipitate potentially hazardous conditions for the patient being treated."

For answers to specific questions about the RDAEF Application or Examination, you can also email DAProgram@dca.ca.gov.