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Licensure

At Issue

The American Dental Association (ADA) believes that an evaluation of a practicing 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." [See policy on guidelines for Licensure (1976:919; 1977:923; 1989:529; 1992:632; 1999:938; 2000:401; 2003:340; 2012:xxx)]

An overwhelming majority of state dental boards have laws consistent with this ADA policy and grant licenses to dentists who are currently licensed and inactive, continuous practice for a specified period of time in another jurisdiction without further theoretical and clinical examination. However, full geographic practice mobility for licensed dental professionals nationally has yet to be realized. The ADA encourages states to grant qualified dentists this mobility.

There is also an ongoing debate in some states as to whether dental directors of dental managed care organizations, dental plan insurance administrators, and consultants who render final decisions on patient treatment plans should be required to have an in-state dental license.

Seventeen (17) states require dentists to obtain a specialty license in order to announce as a specialist or to announce a limitation of practice in a recognized specialty.

PGY-1 is the acronym commonly used to name the alternative means of obtaining dental licensure by completion of a post-graduate residency of at least one-year’s duration in place of a dental practical (clinical) exam. A handful of states, including New York, require PGY-1, while the other states consider it as an option.

ADA Priorities

  • Download the ADA's Current Policies (PDF)
    Specific licensure topics to look for are noted below:
  • Monitoring Clinical Dental Licensure Examinations (Trans. 2005; 2012:xxx)
  • Eliminating Use of Human Subjects in Board Examinations (Trans. 2005)
  • State Board Support for CDA as Responsible to Evaluate Dental Education Programs (Trans. 2003:367; 2012:xxx)
  • Policy on One Standard of Competency: State Boards Review Limited Licensure Graduates on Nonaccredited Dental Schools for Providing Access to Care for Underserved Populations (Trans. 2003:369; 2012:xxx)
  • Clinical Licensure Examinations in Dental Schools (Trans. 2003:368: 2012:xxx)
  • Policy on Dual Degreed Dentists (Trans. 2003:367; 2012:xxx)
  • Policy on Dental Licensure (Trans. 1998:720; 2003:341)
  • Use of Human Subject in Clinical Licensure Exams (Trans. 1996:712)
  • Acceptance of Results of Regional Boards (Trans. 1992:630; 2001:468; 2012:xxx)
  • Endorsement of Recommendations of the Joint ADA/AADB Guidelines for Valid and Reliable Dental Licensure Clinical Examinations and Utilization of the ADA Guidelines for Licensure by Credentials (Trans. 1992:628; 2012:xxx)
  • Policy on Licensure of Graduates of Nonaccredited Dental Schools (Trans. 1984:539; 2012:xxx)
  • Guidelines for Licensure (Trans. 1976:919; 1977:923; 1989:529; 1992:632; 1999:938; 2000:401; 2003:340; 2012:xxx)
  • Position Statement on Federal Intervention in Licensure (Trans. 1975:187, 718; 2012:xxx)

Additional Resources

For additional information contact the ADA Department State Government Affairs (see below for contact information)

Contact Us

Federal Affairs
1111 14th Street NW, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
202.898.2400
Fax: 202.898.2437
Email: govtpol@ada.org 
  State Government Affairs
ADA Chicago Headquarters
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
312.440.2525
Fax: 312.440.3539
Email: govtpol@ada.org