Like every other profession or field of work ‘Dentistry’ also has its own set of rules and regulations under the law that are amalgamated into a ‘State Dental Practice Act’. These dental laws vary from state to state and serve the primary purpose of protecting the public from incompetent dental practitioners and ensuring the quality and professionalism of all the services one receives. Not only does it put forward qualification requirements but also ethical guidelines and standards of practice that you must adhere to. These legal requirements are interpreted and implemented by the Board of Dentistry.

Laws Included in a Dental Practice Act

  • License requirements

These highlight the minimum standard of qualification needed for a dentist and may vary from state to state.

  •  Grounds for suspension or revocations

These put forward the factors you need to be careful of. If you’re involved in any unethical dental practices, have violated the dentistry regulations specified in the act or are found to be incompetent due to multiple complaints then your license may be revoked or suspended depending on the degree of violation.

  • Continuing education

This provides the guidelines dental professionals need to follow every year or for every licensing cycle to stay updated on the latest advancements and best practices in the field. It requires the completion of a certain number of continuing education hours in areas such as infection control, safety, morals, and new developments. A failure to do so may result in either a fine or license suspension.

  • Infection control

As the name suggests, these are guidelines for upholding hygiene standards. From wearing Personal protective equipment (PPE) to guidance of sterilization/disinfecting equipment procedures, everything is written to ensure the prevention of infection transmissions.

  • Duties delegated to dental assistants

These are laws that need to be followed by the dental assistants. For example, working within their scope of practice only or maintaining a certain hygiene. In case of any mistake by the assistant it is the dentist who will be held responsible alongside.

  • Use of approved drugs and techniques

It specifies drugs and procedures that are discouraged to use.

  • Ethical guidelines

These identify certain patterns of behavior and discourage discrimination based on a patient’s race, color or background.

The laws that govern dentistry may vary from state to state however, the general outline remains the same.

Actions the Dental Practice Act Allows Assistants to Perform

Dental assistants are only meant to provide a helping hand to the dentists hence, they are not supposed to work independently. Some of the things they are required to do are:

  • Assisting in terms of passing instruments and retracting the patient’s cheek, tongue, or lips
  • Taking and processing dental x-rays under direct supervision
  • Collecting patient’s dental history
  • Infection control and sterilizing the equipment
  • Office management by scheduling appointments, guiding patients, processing insurance claims and managing patient files

As you can see their roles do not include independent practice of treatments. To make things clear, it is worth mentioning some of the things they are not permitted to perform under the ‘Dental Practice Act’ unless done under direct supervision from a licensed dentist. These include:

  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment recommendations or planning
  • Teeth extraction
  • Administer anesthesia or medications into patients
  • Restorative procedures such as fillings or root canal therapy
  • Surgical procedures
  • Prescription of medication

These laws are subject to variations depending on the state but one important thing to remember is that in case of any discrepancy from the Dental Assistant, it is the dentist who will be held accountable for not supervising properly. Any violation is deemed to be illegal and strict actions will be taken.


Conclusively, the purpose of a Dental Practice Act is to supervise the dentistry workspace through a set of dental laws and ensure the maximum quality of services. It is meant to filter out incompetence and provides a legal framework to judge cases or violations. All dentists should be clearly aware of the legal requirements before starting their dental practice to avoid future problems. These should be specific to your state as they can vary significantly.

For any more queries, you can contact our dental billing experts who are also well versed in the legal framework surrounding dentistry. Contact us today to clear away all your concerns!