Licensure for international dentists

Are you an international dentist that completed your education outside of the U.S.? Learn how to obtain your license to practice dentistry.

In the United States, the requirements for licensure are set by the state board of dentistry, also known as the board of dental examiners or the licensing board. While requirements vary from state to state, all applicants for dental licensure must meet three basic requirements:

Prospective dentists must graduate from a dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Individuals who possess a dental degree from an institution not accredited by CODA may apply for advanced standing dental education programs. Review the list of CODA-accredited dental education programs. The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) provides information about applying for these advanced standing education programs for international dental graduates.

Each institution has admission criteria. Contact the educational program you are interested in to request more information.

Written examination
All U.S. licensing jurisdictions require applicants to pass the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE). The INBDE, developed in response to changes in educational curricula and instructional methods, was launched in August 2020 and replaced the NBDE Part I and Part II. Learn more about the INBDE.

Clinical assessment 
Applicants for dental licensure in most U.S. licensing jurisdictions are subject to a clinical assessment.  Most state boards of dentistry rely on third-party testing agencies to administer a clinical assessment and acceptance varies by state and territory. View clinical assessments accepted by each state and territory.

Canadian Programs
By reciprocal agreement, programs that are accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada are recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. However, individuals attending dental programs in one country and planning to practice in another country should carefully investigate the requirements of the licensing jurisdiction where they wish to practice. Visit the CODA website for more information.


Find contact information for each state and territory.
View the examinations, credentials, and CE requirements for each state/territory.

Frequently asked questions

What is an accredited dental education program?

Predoctoral and postdoctoral dental education programs recognized as meeting standards set out by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) are accredited in the U.S. The Commission recognizes these programs through a rigorous review process.

What is an advanced standing educational program?

Advanced standing education programs are designed for internationally-trained dentists who wish to get a license to practice dentistry in the U.S. These programs, typically shorter than the traditional 4-year D.M.D. or D.D.S. programs in the U.S., provide the opportunity for the international dental graduate to be matriculated into the D.D.S. or D.M.D. program with advanced standing instead of beginning as a first year dental student. Each dental education program has its own admission process and criteria. It is important to check with each institution for its specific admission requirements.

What is CAAPID?

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) manages the Centralized Application for Advanced Placement for International Dentists (CAAPID). This program allows an international dentist to submit a single application and set of credentials, which are then distributed by ADEA to all participating programs designated by the applicant. See participating programs and requirements.

Do I need to take the TOEFL?

Most dental schools require international dentists to successfully complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for admission to their programs. Learn more about the TOEFL.

What is the INBDE?

The Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) is a written exam that was developed in response to changes in educational curricula and instructional methods. The examination is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE).

If I do not have a D.D.S. or D.M.D. from an accredited dental school but completed an advanced dental education program in an accredited U.S. or Canadian program, can I become licensed in the U.S.?

Advanced dental education programs are for individuals who already hold a dental degree. These programs include training in accredited advanced general dentistry or specialty education programs. In the majority of states, completing an advanced dental education program does not satisfy the educational requirements for licensure if the initial dental degree was obtained from a non-accredited program. Most states require that graduates of international dental programs obtain additional general dentistry education at the predoctoral level and receive a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree. Contact the state board of dentistry where you wish to become licensed to verify requirements.