Click on the Occupations tab below to see the dental professions currently active in Washington, educational requirements and required credentials. Click on the Clinical Capacity tab to see the procedures allowed for each occupation.

Occupations Comprising Washington’s Oral Health Workforce

Several occupations comprise Washington’s oral health workforce. Not all occupations require formal licensing in the state, although most require at least a certification or registration. Click the links for more specific state requirements by provider type from the Washington State Department of Health.

Provider Type

Years and Type of Education Required

Credential Required to Practice in Washington


DDS or DMD via 4 years of dental school post-bachelor’s degree; specialists receive additional education; 63 hours CE every 3 years

License; residents can obtain a limited license for practice within approved educational settings

Dental Hygienists

Associate degree (2 years following prerequisites) or bachelor’s (4 years) or master’s in dental hygiene from an accredited program; pass the Dental Hygiene National Board Exam; 15 hours CE annually


Expanded Function Dental Auxiliaries (EFDAs)

EFDA certificate following completion of nationally accredited dental assistant program


Dental Therapists

Associates degree

2023 WA law granted authority to practice in community health clinics (House Bill 1678), expanding 2017 law allowing dental therapists to practice on federally designated tribal lands (Senate Bill 5079). Licensing information forthcoming.

Dental Assistants

Range: from on-the-job training to associate’s degree; No CE required for state but 12 hours annually for national certification

Registration – annual renewal


1-2 years, associate degree, or completion of an approved technical program; 15 hours CE annually


Dental Laboratory Assistants/Technician

High school, 4 years’ experience or 2 years’ experience and completion of a dental lab tech education program


Dental Anesthesia Assistant

Approved dental anesthesia assistant training course that includes IV access or phlebotomy; 12 hours CE every 3 years to maintain certification

Certification and valid anesthesia permit of oral and maxillofacial surgeon or a dental anesthesiologist.

Primary Care Medical Providers
(Physicians, Physician Assistants [PAs],  Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners [APRNs])

No specific oral health education required beyond medical degree; to be reimbursed by Medicaid, must have training through Washington Dental Service Foundation

Professional medical license

Supporting Caregivers
(i.e., in-home caregivers for people with disabilities and older adults)

Oral health is a component of initial short-term training for in-home caregivers; 10 hours CE in oral health available



Clinical Capacity of Oral Health Providers

This table displays the scope of practice by provider type, showing how the roles and responsibilities of the different oral health occupations compare in the state of Washington. Updated from the UW CHWS 2009 Washington State Oral Health Workforce Report.