Dental Assisting

UNM-Gallup Dental Assisting

With a certificate in Dental Assisting, you can find a way to utilize both communication and technical skills in flexible and interesting work environments. Work chair-side with dentists as part of a dental care team to make patients comfortable. Our program trains dental assistants for work that involves direct patient care, lab duties and general office tasks. If you like to work with your hands doing a variety of skills, this could be the career for you.

Info Sessions:

Come visit us and learn about the Dental Assisting program at one of the following Info Sessions:

  • 10 a.m. Jan. 8, 2024.
  • 10 a.m. March 4, 2024.
  • 10 a.m. May 6, 2024.

All Info Sessions will be located in the Dental Assisting Lab in Room 103 of the Health Careers Building.

To sign up for an Info Session, please contact Neysa Cox at

Scope of Practice:

In the state of New Mexico, Dental Assistants can do the following:

Legally operate dental x-ray equipment and perform dental radiographic procedures if they meet the following criterial

  • Study by independent preparation or in a training course on radiation health and safety within the past 36 months
  • Have assisted with or observed five cases of full mouth series intraoral radiographs (or fi ve extraoral radiographs, if applying for limited certificate)
  • Pass the national DANB Radiation Health and Safety (RHS) exam
  • Apply to the NM Board of Dental Health Care for a training permit, valid for six months
  • Pass a state radiography clinical exam, within six months of passing the DANB RHS exam
  • Pass the New Mexico jurisprudence exam (take-home)
  • Apply to the NM Board of Dental Health Care for certification to perform radiography

Under Indirect Supervision

  • Rubber cup coronal polishing (after successfully passing New Mexico Licensure exam)
  • Application of topical fluoride (after successfully passing New Mexico Licensure exam)
  • Pit and fissure sealant application (after successfully passing New Mexico Licensure exam)
  • Administer nitrous oxide with the dentist’s authorization
  • Any basic supportive dental procedure, not excluded elsewhere in rule or in statute
  • Perform infection control and occupational safety procedures
  • Perform other duties not specified by this state’s dental practice act

Functions NOT Permitted by Dental Assistants in New Mexico Functions

  • Final impressions, to include physical and digital impressions, for restorations or prosthetic appliances
  • Removal of, or addition to, the hard or soft tissue of oral cavity
  • Diagnosis and treatment planning
  • Initial fitting and adaptation of prostheses
  • Final fitting, adaptation, seating and cementation of any fixed or removable dental appliance or restoration, including but not limited to inlays, crowns, space maintainers, habit devices, anti-snoring or sleep apnea appliances, or splints
  • Irrigation and medication of canals, cone try-in, reaming, filing or filling of root canals
  • Other services defined as the practice of dentistry or dental hygiene
  • Bleaching or whitening teeth without the direct or indirect supervision of a dentist
  • Laser-assisted non-surgical periodontal treatment

State Career Ladder:

  1. Dental Assistant
  2. Dental Assistant with state licensure in expanded functions
  3. Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary

Other Specialized Dental Assistant Categories:

  1. Community Dental Health Coordinator

Career Opportunities:

  • Chairside dental assistant in a
    • General practice dental office
    • Endodontic specialty office
    • Oral and maxillofacial specialty office
    • Periodontal specialty office
    • Orthodontic specialty office
    • Pedodontic specialty office
    • Cosmic dental office
    • Prosthodontic specialty office
    • And more…
  • Dental Front Office
  • Dental Office Manager
  • Community Dental Health Coordinator
  • Expanded Function Dental Auxiliary
  • Dental Assisting Instructor (must have a bachelor’s degree)

Mission Statement:

The UNMG Dental Assisting Science Program assists lifelong learners to develop clinically competent and culturally sensitive dental care for patients in the private, public and rural dental health care settings.

Program Goals:

  1. Demonstrate clinical competencies as a qualified entry level dental assistant who can perform a variety of dental assisting tasks using state-of-the-art methods and materials in private, public, and rural dental health care dental settings.  
  2. The student will demonstrate safe and efficient dental health care by being in compliance with both Federal and New Mexico state standards and regulations under the supervision of the dentist.   
  3. The student will provide dental services with respect and compassion for all cultural diversities. 
  4. The student will demonstrate legal and ethical behavior that adheres to the professional conduct in dentistry.   
  5. The student will be prepared academically with the knowledge and skill competence to qualify for both the New Mexico certificate examinations and the Dental Assisting National Board examination.   
  6. The student will demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively with patients and the dental team.  
  7. The student will demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning and professional advancement upon program graduation.    

Our program has determined it meets professional licensure requirements in the state of New Mexico. It has not determined it meets professional licensure requirements in any other state.