The first step you need to take is to contact the state board of dentistry in the state where you want to be licensed to find out the licensure requirements.
Requirements vary from state to state, especially for graduates from dental schools outside the United States or Canada. So, you must know exactly what is required for licensure in the state where you wish to practice, including information on clinical examination requirements. This will save a lot of time, money and energy.
The next step will be to contact the American Dental Association Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (ADA JCNDE) to get information about the written National Board Dental Examinations.
Sitting for and passing the National Board Dental Examinations (NBDE) is an important thing you will need to do to begin the process of becoming licensed in the United States. This examination is a licensure requirement in all states in the United States of America. It is also a requirement for admission to a dental education program if you are accepted into a dental school with advanced standing, an advanced general dentistry or a specialty education program.
The next point of contact is ECE. To be eligible to take the NBDE, International Dental Graduates (graduates from dental schools not accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation or the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada) must have their dental course transcripts verified by Educational Credential Evaluators, Inc. (ECE).
The Joint Commission will process an application to take the National Board Dental Examinations only after it receives the ECE Evaluation Report.
Now you need to prepare a list of dental schools where you can obtain additional education in an accredited dental or advanced dental education program. Most states require that graduates of dental schools in other countries obtain additional education in an accredited dental education program.
Find out from the state board of dentistry what education is required of foreign dental graduates so you can be sure to meet its requirements. States vary on the type of education that is required for licensure. Most states require candidates to complete additional education in general dentistry while some others will also accept completion of education in a specialty program.
If you become licensed in a state that accepts specialty education, and you later choose to move to another state that requires education in general dentistry, it is possible that you will have to go back for additional education in general dentistry in order to obtain a dental license in that state.
You must successfully complete the clinical examination required in the state where you wish to obtain a license.
All states require successful completion of a clinical examination to obtain a dental license in addition to the educational requirement and successful completion of the written National Board Dental Examinations.
Clinical examinations can be administered by an individual state board or one of four regional examining boards. Most states participate in one or more regional examinations. Individual states contract with a regional examining board that will administer the clinical exam required for those states. The regional testing agencies do not have the authority to license individuals and should not be confused with state boards of dentistry.
You need to contact the state board of dentistry in the state where you wish to practice for information about which examination is required.
The final step is to apply for a license through the state board of dentistry where licensure is desired. Once you have successfully completed the written National Dental Board Examinations, met the educational requirement and successfully completed the appropriate clinical examination for the state where you wish to practice, the next step is to apply for licensure.
You must contact the state board of dentistry for an application. You will then be informed whether there are any additional requirements specific to that state.
Several states have other requirements for all applicants. Some common requirements are:
- A pass in the written test on the state Dental Practice Act and Regulations
- Be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Proof of having malpractice insurance.