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Working in USA overview for a Foreign Trained Dentist (FTD) - USA-1

Updated: Feb 6, 2021

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”-Robert Kiyosaki

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Dentistry in the USA

  • My understanding is that now is quite a good time to actually move to the US because there is a predicted more than 12% growth opportunity for dentists which is about 7% higher than all of the occupations.

  • There is also there is quite a dental shortage in a lot of the states so if you are not bound by state I suggest you do good research on where you would like to settle first , as all the rest of the pathway depends on this decision.

  • According to a study by Sergio Varela Kellesarian,

The Challenges ahead of you are

  • Stringent admission processes

  • High tuition costs

  • Immigration barriers

  • Cultural differences

Career pathways for a Foreign-trained dentist (FTD)


  • This is obtained by joining a normal DDS/DMD program in their second year - after having an orientation usually 2-6 months and then completing the 3rd and 4th year. This is called Advanced Standing Programs​ (ASP - I shall refer to all programs as ASP). This basically validates your international dental undergraduate degree like a BDS to a DDS/DMD.

  • This course is called with different names across universities (PASS, PPID, ASPID, IASP ) which will make you eligible for licensure in any state after taking the required clinical exam in that state.

  • Of the 66 dental schools in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 36 offer opportunities for foreign-trained dentists to acquire a full U.S. dental degree through an advanced standing program.


  • This pathway allows foreign-trained dentists to combine Advanced/Graduate/Residency post-doctoral training with research training in specific specialities of dentistry. This is similar to how a post-graduation program like MDS in India.

  • For licensing of FTD a few states accept successful completion of a clinical speciality program instead of a U.S. dental degree saving you the trouble and expenses of the ASP.

  • The disadvantage is that you will be restricted to that state you get the residency or a few others that accepts this, so moving state may not be an option for you unless you explore 'License by credentials' after 5 years.


  • The Limited license allows the foreign dentist to practice in a public health clinic, hospital, dental school, or prison under the supervision of a licensed dentist.

  • Practice in a private office is not permitted.

  • I would also at this time urge you to check out options to work for the Army as they come with a lot of privileges - esp in some states like Florida and Massachusetts. You may need to be a citizen / permanent resident. You will also be entitled to the VALOUR act - to be eligible for License for any state. The Navy and the Airforce gives you similar options and also would be a faster path to American naturalisation.

  • When reviewing the education of a dental graduate from a non-accredited dental program, the Minnesota Board of Dentistry is evaluating the dentist’s dental degree program for equivalency. They consider the course content and credit hours from pre-dental, dental didactic, clinical and lab credit hours required by dental colleges accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association to be critical. The Minnesota Board requires passing grades in all subjects (defined as U.S. grade C or higher). YOU WILL HAVE TO WORK UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A REGISTERED DENTIST FOR 3-5 YEARS BEFORE BEING GRANTED A LICENSE.



  • This could be ideal for you if you are interested in research and academia, or you have a masters and experience in a field of dentistry and you only wish to pursue it.

  • In some States, a full-time faculty position would allow you to practice within the dental school with a faculty license.

  • An academic career is an amazing career path, my besties is an associate professor at UNC, Chapel Hill , and she absolutely adores her role.

  • Approximately 13.1% of dentists working in U.S. academic settings in 2016 were identified as being foreign-trained. A significant rise compared with 2002 and 2009, where foreign-trained dentists in academia were estimated to be 3.3% and 9.1%, respectively

  • This is a whole topic in itself and is discussed well in a paper by V.Allareddy.

  • Some of the advantages are according to him " Apart from teaching, dental faculty members are involved in a wide range of activities such as designing and conducting independent and/or collaborative research, performing community service, reviewing articles submitted for publication, and conducting patient care. The exposure to a variety of activities on a day-to-day basis and the supportive work environment are often cited as major reasons for pursuing academic careers. Other advantages of being in academia include staying constantly updated, working at the cutting edge of the profession, learning from peers who are experts in their areas, and working in an interdisciplinary environment. Academic careers carry many other benefits from a secure salary to excellent insurance and retirement plans. On the other hand, salary limitations compared to private practice, work pressure, gender bias, length of academic training, and educational debt have been cited as barriers to entering academia. Even though some tuition waiver programs and support from speciality foundations are available for dentists intending to pursue a full-time academic career"

  • Some faculty license allows full freedom of practice full time, the others have restriction in days of practice. It is different from institution to institution and state to state.

Articles to read

  1. One about the different law enforcing bodies and their role in the US

  2. Education for FTD in the US

  3. Advanced Standing program in the US and Canada


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