Dental licensure is the process whereby a state grants someone the legal authority to practice dentistry in that state. Typically, fourth-year dental students complete specific requirements to obtain their dental license.   

Licensure requirements

Each state sets its own licensure requirements. Use this state map to find out what methods your state accepts, or visit your state’s dental board. There is no universal licensure exam, which means getting licensed in your state doesn't guarantee the ability to practice in another state. Although specifics vary, all states have three requirements:

  1. Educational
    All states’ educational requirements are satisfied by graduation from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA).
  2. Written
    All licensing boards use the Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE) to satisfy their written exam requirements. The INDBE is a high-stakes exam consisting of multiple questions requiring candidates to use their clinical skills to successfully complete one or more dental problem-solving tasks. This exam replaced the two-part NBDE Parts I and II in 2022.

  3. Clinical

    There are three testing agencies that administer clinical exams on manikins and live patients. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many states now permit students to take all or part of their clinical exam requirements on a manikin. Review the licensure laws and regulations from the individual state board websites for real-time information about which exams are accepted where licensure is sought.

    ASDA is a leader in dental licensure reform. We are committed to eliminating the use of live human patients in obtaining dental licensure. You can find more information and ways to support ASDA’s efforts in our Licensure Reform page.  

    In June 2020, the Joint Commission on Dental Examinations released the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Examination (DLOSCE) as an alternative to the live-patient clinical exam. The DLOSCE is comprised of multiple questions requiring candidates to use their clinical skills to successfully complete one or more dental problem solving tasks. As of April 2023, six states permit the use of the DLOSCE. In some states, passage of the DLOSCE only partially fulfills the clinical examination requirement for licensure. Visit your state dental board website for specific details, clarifications and updated policies.

Study Materials

Dental Decks: ASDA members receive a 15% discount on INBDE dental decks. Find information in ASDA Member Benefits.


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