Although its primary objective is to safeguard the public, the California Dental Practice Act is an excellent resource for dental professionals to ensure compliance with state law.

The California Dental Practice Act is the body of laws in the California Business and Professions Code and the California Code of Regulations governing dental professionals, including dentists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthodontists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists.

The Act is intended to serve as a legal guideline for both professionals and the public regarding all aspects of dental practice.

The DentalOP is a California Dental Board Approved Course Provider that certifies students in California Dental Practice Act and provides support for other dental assistant programs.

This course is designed for all California dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants in all practice settings.


Course Completion Certificate:  A printable (PDF) Certificate by Email

The purpose of this course is to provide California dental professionals with a working knowledge of the contents of the California Dental Practice Act, ensuring that they practice legally and safely.

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  • Define the scope of practice of dental professionals in California.
  • List the governing agencies of the dental profession and define their functions.
  • Describe the legal role and responsibilities of the dentist and dental auxiliaries.
  • Distinguish between direct and indirect supervision and define auxiliary responsibilities in each category.
  • Describe the various laws regarding licenses in the dental profession.
  • State where to find the yearly updates of the Dental Practice Act.

Allowable Duties for Dental Assistants (Unlicensed)

A dental assistant may perform such basic supportive dental procedures as the following under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist when done so pursuant to the order, control and full professional responsibility of the supervising dentist.

Such procedures shall be checked and approved by the supervising dentist prior to dismissal of the patient from the office of said dentist.

  • Take impressions for diagnostic and opposing models, bleaching trays, temporary crowns and bridges, and sports guards;
  • Apply non-aerosol and non-caustic topical agents;
  • Remove post-extraction and periodontal dressings;
  • Placement of elastic orthodontic separators;
  • Remove orthodontic separators;
  • Assist in the administration of nitrous oxide analgesia or sedation; however, a dental assistant shall not start the administration of the gases and shall not adjust the flow of the gases unless instructed to do so by the dentist who shall be present at the patient’s chairside at the implementation of these instructions. This regulation shall not be construed to prevent any person from taking appropriate action in the event of a medical emergency.
  • Hold anterior matrices
  • Remove sutures
  • Take intra-oral measurements for orthodontic procedures
  • Seat adjusted retainers or headgears, including appropriate instructions
  • Check for loose bands
  • Remove arch wires
  • Remove ligature ties
  • Apply topical fluoride, after scaling and polishing by the supervising dentist or a registered dental hygienist
  • Place and remove rubber dams
  • Place, wedge and remove matrices
  • Cure restorative or orthodontic materials in operative site with light-curing device


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