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Iowa Sales Tax and Dentistry

The purpose of this publication is to explain as simply as possible to dentists and those associated with dental laboratories, clinics, and related businesses what is subject to the sales or use tax and what is not.

Since it is not possible to cover every conceivable situation, specific questions about the sales or use tax and its applications to dental services should be directed to Taxpayer Services.

Charges for Performing a Medical Service

Dental services are not subject to the sales or use tax. This includes services performed by licensed dentists engaged in general or specialized dentistry, orthodontists, dental surgeons, and other licensed practitioners.


Exempt Items

In general, exempt items are prescription drugs and devices and prosthesis that become permanently affixed to the patient.

Taxable Items

In general, taxable items are items that are used to perform the service of dentistry but do not become permanently affixed to the patient. These are often referred to as being "consumed" by the dentist while maintaining and conducting business.

Exempt Items

The following are common examples of items that are not subject to the sales or use tax; this list is not inclusive. If you have questions about the taxability of an item, please contact Taxpayer Services.

A completed Sales Tax Exemption Certificate (pdf) must be provided to the supplier when purchasing these items.


  • Artificial teeth
  • Acrylic, including tints
  • Complete dentures
  • Partial denture
  • Crowns and/or bridges (gold, porcelain, stainless steel, resin, aluminum)
  • Porcelain
  • Denture reline materials
  • Clasp and bar wire
  • Gold and silver solder
  • Platinum foil
  • Precious, semiprecious, and non-precious casting metal


  • Silver amalgam
  • Mercury
  • Composite restoratives
  • Pulp protective bases
  • Glass monomer cements and restoratives
  • Adhesives
  • Pit and fissure sealant
  • Cavity lining varnishes
  • Gold
  • Cements
  • Metal retention pins
  • Endodontic posts


  • Points (gutta-percha, paper, silver)
  • Root canal sealer


  • Implants
  • Bone plate systems
  • Hemostatic pack agents
  • Hydroxyapatite bone materials


  • Acrylic retainers
  • Metal and elastic bands
  • Brackets
  • Tubes
  • Hooks
  • Springs
  • Buttons
  • Cleats
  • Face bows
  • Wire
  • Space maintainers
  • Positioners

Prescription Drugs (dispensed)

  • Local anesthetics
  • Topical anesthetics
  • Antibiotics
  • Sedatives
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Oxygen
  • Fluoride (prescription dose)
  • Pain medication
  • Conscious sedation drugs
  • General anesthetic drugs, gases
  • Formocresol
  • Tooth bleaching agents

Taxable Purchases

Dentists should pay sales tax when purchasing the following items. If purchased without paying sales tax, such as through a mail-order business, use tax must be paid. This list is not inclusive. If you have questions about the taxability of an item or need to be registered to remit sales or use tax, contact Taxpayer Services.

Treatment Rooms

All equipment and materials not specifically exempted, including dental chairs, operating stools, dental units, cabinets, examining lights, air compressors, suction and vacuum units central or portable, handpieces, including single use handpieces, carbide and diamond burs, hand instruments including pluggers, carvers, chisels, excavators, explorers, mirrors, pliers, scissors, forceps, matrices, wedges.

Radiographic Equipment

Radiographic (x-ray) machines, cassettes, film, film holders or positioners, film processing equipment, processing chemicals, film racks, lead aprons.

Electronic Equipment and Supplies

Pulp vitalometers, composite curing lights, ultrasonic scalers, electrosurgery units, intraoral video machines, fiber optic lights, laser units, diagnostic computers for bite analysis, for periodontal probes, for temperature probes.

Laboratory Equipment and Supplies

Dental lathes, vacuum mixers, casting machines, furnaces for burnout and porcelain, model trimmers, vacuum formers, dust collectors, blowpipes, gypsum products, die material, waxes, grinding stones, polishing disks, polishing materials, including pumice, rouge, and tropli.

Sterilization Equipment and Materials

Steam and chemical autoclaves, dry heat and gas sterilizers, ultrasonic cleaning units and chemicals, chemical disinfectants, sterile packaging, sterilizer testing supplies.

Reception Area and Business Office Equipment and Supplies

Furniture, file cabinets, computers, typewriters, calculators, treatment records, appointment books, stationery, computer programs, accounting materials.

How Does the Sales or Use Tax Apply to Dental Laboratories?

Dental laboratories, even those maintained by a dentist at his or her place of business, may purchase materials used in fabrication exempt from tax as property sold for use in processing. The exemption only applies to those materials which actually become part of the finished item. Materials that do not become a part of the finished product are subject to sales or use tax.

Dental laboratories that sell equipment, instruments, furniture, fixtures, or dental supplies must collect and remit sales tax on those sales.

What Kind of Records Should Be Kept?

Records such as purchase and sales invoices, bills of lading, books of all receipts and sales, cash register receipts, exemption certificates, and other pertinent papers and documents are required to be kept for a minimum of three years and be available for inspection during business hours.