Dental licensure

Every dentist must go through the licensure process at least once during their professional life.  Find out how to obtain your license.

Patient Discussion

The 3 requirements for licensure

In the U.S., licensure requirements are set by the state board of dentistry, also known as the board of dental examiners or licensing board. Although requirements vary from state to state, all dental licensure applicants must meet three basic requirements: educational, written examination, and clinical examination.

Educational
Nearly all states require a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree from a university-based dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).

Written examination
All U.S. licensing jurisdictions require licensure candidates to pass Part I and Part II of the written National Board Dental Examination (NBDE). NBDE Part I and Part II are being discontinued and replaced by the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE). The INBDE was developed in response to changes in educational curricula and instructional methods and launched August 1, 2020.

Learn more about the INBDE.

Clinical examination 
Candidates for dental licensure in most U.S. licensing jurisdictions are subject to a clinical examination requirement. Most state boards of dentistry rely on regional testing agencies to administer a clinical examination.

Additional information 

Review each state’s specific licensure requirements and contact information.
Guide
Guide
View the examinations, credentials, and CE requirements for each state/territory.
Map
Map
Help shape the future of dentistry. Get involved with the New Dentist Committee.
Action
Action

ADA licensure policies 

While the American Dental Association recognizes and supports the state's right to regulate dental licensure, it has adopted policies on licensure issues, including freedom of movement for dentists, increased standardization of clinical licensing examinations, specialty licensure and the use of patients in clinical examinations. Download the files below for additional details.
Read the report that discusses contemporary approaches to licensure for modern needs.
Article
Article
Review Ethical Considerations When Using Patients in the Clinical Examination Process.
Learn more about the ADA comprehensive licensure policy and how it has evolved.
Dental Student Grad
Initial licensure for students

Ready to obtain your first dental license? Learn about the examinations and varying state requirements.

Licensure by credentials

Learn how to obtain a dental license in a new jurisdiction by using your existing credentials.

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