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State Licensure for International Dentintist.USA-9

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

“Success is not built on success. It’s built on failure. It’s built on frustration. Sometimes it’s built on catastrophe.” -Summer Redstone

Photo courtesy - @indykadeer

  • Before a dentist can legally treat patients in the United States, his/her qualifications must be approved by a governmental agency. The approval process is called licensure and the credential awarded is called a license.

  • The agency in state government that administers licensure is typically called the state board of dentistry or the state board of dental examiners.

  • A license awarded by a state board permits the dentist to practice only within the boundaries of the state. A dentist who is licensed in New York, for example, is not permitted to practice in Illinois unless he/she obtains an Illinois dental license.

  • Licensure requirements vary from state to state. This section provides a general overview of state licensure requirements vary from state to state, all applicants for dental licensure must meet three basic requirements;

    • an education requirement

    • a written examination requirement

    • a clinical examination requirement.


  • All states accept a DDS/DMD from US/ Canada

  • Most states accept an Advanced standing program

  • Some states around 18 - accept a post-graduate residency

  • A couple of states - California and Minnesota will evaluate your degree for direct licensure.(California only from a couple of dental schools in Mexico)

  • Minnesota does not require you to do any further studies and you can work under a dentist for 3 years to get an independent license, BUT there is a lot of paperwork needed, do read their documents thoroughly before jumping to wrong decisions for the wrong reasons.​


  • All U.S. licensing jurisdictions require evidence that a candidate for licensure has passed written National Board Dental Examinations.​- NDBE/INDBE



  • Candidates for dental licenses in most U.S. licensing jurisdictions are subject to the clinical examination requirement

  • Because circumstances may vary, an international dentist should always direct his or her initial request for information about a clinical examination to the appropriate state board rather than to a regional dental testing agency

  • State dental boards may accept some or all of the following as evidence of clinical competence for a dental license. All details taken from ADA- check their map with details.

Traditional Clinical Examination: A clinical examination administered by a testing agency or individual state (Delaware only). These exams are conducted by 5 regional testing agencies in the U.S.

  • The Western Regional Examining Board (WREB)

  • Central Regional Dental Testing Service (CRDTS)

  • Commission of Dental Competency Assessment (CDCA) (formerly known as North East Regional Board (NERB) of Dental Examiners)

  • Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)

  • Council of Interstate Testing Agencies (CITA)

Curriculum Integrated Format (CIF) Type Examination: CIF is an alternative to the traditional single sitting format of an initial clinical licensure examination. The CIF option is offered by CRDTS, CITA, CDCA and SRTA. The CIF format allows dental students to be examined in sections, during the fourth year of dental school, instead of taking all parts at the very end of senior year. With the CIF, the manikin-based examinations are administered late in the junior year or early in the senior year, and the clinical patient-based examinations are administered during the senior year. Candidate scores are reported to students while they are in school; when necessary, students can seek remediation.

Post-Graduate Year Residency (PGY1): PGY1 is the completion of a residency program at least one year in length in an accredited postdoctoral program in lieu of the clinical licensure examination as a pathway to licensure. The PGY-1 is mandated by Delaware and New York. PGY1 is an optional pathway to licensure in Minnesota, California, Colorado and Ohio. Washington accepts completion of a PGY1 if completed in that state in certain settings.

Canadian Clinical Examination Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE): The OSCE clinical examination for all Canadian dentists is administered by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada. The OSCE is a station-type exam where candidates answer higher-order problem-solving questions based on models, radiographs, casts and case histories. The Minnesota Board of Dentistry accepts OSCE results from University of Minnesota graduates only for initial licensure.

California Portfolio Examination: In 2007, as a result of a legislative directive, the Dental Board of California began creating a portfolio examination pathway for initial licensure, in collaboration with the six dental schools and the California Dental Association. The portfolio examination relies on the student evaluation mechanisms currently applied by the dental schools to assess competence. Performance is measured during competency evaluations conducted in the schools by calibrated examiners who are members of the dental school faculty. The dental board regularly audits the examinations.


  • Jurisprudence exam or the Laws and ethics exam

  • Background and criminal records checked

  • English language test / Spanish in some states

  • Be over 18 years of age

  • Sound moral character

  • Proof of malpractice insurance

  • Certification in Basic Life Support.

  • fingerprint verification

  • interview

  • documentation of hepatitis B vaccination

  • courses in infection control, radiation safety

  • There may also be some requirements applicable to internationally trained dentists only, candidates who have graduated from a non accredited school must have official dental school course transcripts verified by Educational Credential Evaluators


  • Some states may grant temporary and/or provisional dental licenses to meet specific needs. For example, a temporary license may be granted to permit a student to participate in an advanced education program.

  • Provisional licensure is usually limited to full-time faculty members of accredited dental programs, where required. Neither temporary nor provisional licenses are valid for the purposes of private practice.

  • If seeking licensure for the purpose of a faculty position or enrollment as a student, the educational institution provides information about such provisions when an individual is accepted or employed into a position qualifying for temporary or provisional licensure.


  • Dentists employed by dental schools for teaching or research assignments are sometimes not required to hold a state dental license. Instead, states may issue a faculty permit.

  • Requirements vary from state to state. An advanced dental degree with an excellent academic record and research experience are usually required for such positions.

  • An international dental graduate who qualifies for a faculty or research position might wish to explore the possibility of a Fulbright Commission. Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Fulbright for Non-U.S. Students provide opportunities for students from abroad for degree, non-degree and specialized study in the United States. For more information, contact the Fulbright Program in your country. If there is no Fulbright program in your country (like India, contact the American Embassy)

  • The Limited license allows you to perform all the duties of a dentist but under the supervision of a registered dentist only in specifically named - Prison, Hospital or Public clinic. Private practice is not permitted.

  • This may be a good option for anyone who needs more time to prepare financially / other circumstances to work in a community centre. prison and learn how dentistry is practised in America - there may be more states that may allow this - contact state boards where you might be interested.

  • Limited License requirements for Massachusetts.

  • Video from a dentist in Massachusetts who went along this pathway.

  • The Limited Permit will allow you to practice dentistry only under the supervision of a registered dentist and only in a registered school of dentistry to instruct and supervise clinical dentistry or hygiene for a student for the completion of the residency program.

  • A supervising dentist always has to be present when professional services are given.

  • You may complete a residency program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, CODA, in either a clinical speciality or in general dentistry.

  • The Office of the Professions must receive verification of completion of the approved residency program directly from the residency program director, and you will have to complete Form 4B – Certification of Completion of Clinical Residency Program.

  • The limited permit is valid for one year or until ten days after you are notified that your application for licensure was denied. A limited permit which has not expired may be renewed annually until your residency is completed (new forms and fees each year)

  • 17 states require dentists to obtain a speciality license in order to announce as a specialist or to announce a limitation of practice in a recognized speciality. The link provided is from 2009, I could not find any more upto date list- PLease contact respective boards.

  • Of these, only Illinois and Nevada will also allow general dentists to announce the exclusive provision of dental services in areas of dentistry that constitute specialities if they disclose in the announcement that they are general dentists.

  • In the states that do not license dental specialities, regulations will allow general dentists, who possess special qualifications, to announce a limitation of their practices to a particular dental speciality. This means they can no longer practice general dentistry or any other speciality

  • ADA and a few other organisation have come up with this to help dentist working in one state with a licence to move to a different state with the US.

  • Requiring a candidate who is seeking licensure in several jurisdictions to demonstrate his or her theoretical knowledge and clinical skill on separate examinations for each jurisdiction seems unnecessary duplication. Further, an evaluation of a practising dentist’s theoretical knowledge and clinical skill based on his or her performance record can provide as much protection to the public as would an evaluation based on examination.

  • Issuing a license using a performance record in place of examinations is termed licensure by credentials. (Trans. 2012: 464 - Guidelines for Licensure

  • The number of licensing jurisdictions that offer licensure by credentials has increased dramatically in the last decade.

  • Dental boards in 46 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have authority to grant licensure by credentials. Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada do not. A Florida law adopted in 2014 allows licensure eligibility for active-duty military, veterans, and veterans’ families who serve or have served as an armed forces health care practitioner (as defined in Florida law).

  • Minnesota is the only state in the United States that offers its dental students the opportunity to take the Canadian Licensing Board Examination for those who want to practice in Minnesota or in Canada.

  • A candidate for licensure by credentials MUST have successfully completed a licensure examination administered by another state or jurisdiction at some point in the candidate's career and have had for one year or longer and usually would need to show evidence for work activity for 5 years preceding the application.

  • There may be other requirements like jurisprudence exam and BLS course etc .. depending upon the state-defined regulations, the law of each state which can be got from ADA /AADB.


  • I came across this chart for hygienists for the same and thought will attach it here in case anyone finds it useful.



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