Orthodontic Assistant Permit

Allowable Duties of an RDA vs. OA in the Orthodontic Setting

Having your R.D.A. license is a great accomplishment. It allows you to perform many duties in a general office setting. Some examples are mouth mirror inspections of the oral cavity, applying bleaching agents, and chemically preparing teeth for aesthetic bonding. However, if you plan on specializing in orthodontics a “specialty” orthodontic assistant license is now required in California to work in the orthodontic field. Many registered dental assistants work in orthodontic offices assuming that an R.D.A license is the only license required, but this is no longer accurate.
Below are the allowable duties of a Registered Dental Assistant (RDA) and an Orthodontic Assistant Permit holder (OA) in the orthodontic setting.

Orthodontic Assistant Permit Holder Allowable Duties

  • All orthodontic related DA and RDA duties, in addition to:
    • Debond brackets
    • Size, fit and cement orthodontic bands
    • Chemically prepare teeth for bonding, select and pre-position brackets
    • Remove excess cement with an ultrasonic scaler from supragingival surface of teeth undergoing orthodontic treatment

Registered Dental Assistant Allowable Duties in Orthodontics:

  • All duties a Dental Assistant (unlicensed) are permitted to do, in addition to:
    • Removing orthodontic bands
    • Place ligature ties and arch wires


A registered dental assistant may only perform the following additional duties [Orthodontic Assistant Permit duties] if he or she has completed a board approved registered dental assistant educational program in those [Orthodontic Assistant Permit] duties, or if he or she has provided evidence, satisfactory to the board, of having completed a board-approved course in those [Orthodontic Assistant Permit] duties.


As you can see, obtaining your OA license is an essential step for any working dental assistant in an orthodontic office or an assistant wanting to move in that direction. It’s important as an assistant to always move forward with obtaining additional education and licensing. There
is a lot to gain. When obtaining an orthodontic assisting permit there is no where to go but up! It will challenge you to be your best.


Written by: Norma Abrica

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