The level of government responsible for licensure is the US state, district or dependency. A license issued by one such jurisdiction is applicable only within the geographic confines of that particular jurisdiction. Agencies in state government that administer dental licensure under laws adopted by state legislatures typically are called state boards of dentistry.
Specific dental licensure requirements vary among jurisdictions, but all jurisdictions have three types of requirements: an educational requirement, a written examination requirement and a clinical examination requirement. All jurisdictions accept graduates of dental schools accredited directly by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association as fulfilling the educational requirement. Most jurisdictions also accept graduates of Canadian dental schools that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.
The National Board Dental Examination is intended to fulfill or partially fulfill the written examination requirements, but acceptance of National Board scores is completely at the discretion of the individual state. A state may place any limit on acceptance of National Board scores that it deems appropriate. For example, some states accept National Board scores only if earned within the last 10 or 15 years.
The Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations is the agency responsible for the development and administration of the National Board Dental Examinations. This 15-member Commission includes representatives of dental schools, dental practice, state dental examining boards, dental hygiene, dental students, and the public. A standing committee of the Joint Commission includes other dentists who act as consultants regarding this Examination.
Clinical examinations are conducted by individual state boards of dentistry or by regional dental testing agencies. A regional agency, often called a regional board, is a group of state boards that develops and administers a clinical examination jointly.
Purpose of the National Board Dental Examinations
The purpose of the National Board Dental Examination is to assist state boards in determining qualifications of dentists who seek licensure to practice dentistry. The examination assesses the ability to understand important information from basic biomedical and dental sciences and also the ability to apply such information in a problem-solving context.
Recognition of the National Board Dental Examination Scores
Although written examinations may be developed at the local level, most licensing boards use the National Board Dental Examination (Parts I & II) as a major portion of their written examination requirement. Currently, all 53 United States licensing jurisdictions recognize National Board results. These jurisdictions include all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands of the United States.