Licensure Reform Fast Facts

  • Dental licensure is the process by which dental students receive a license to practice dentistry.
  • Historically, the most controversial issue with the dental licensure exam process was that, in many states, it was performed on a live human subject. Exams performed on live human subjects pose various ethical, reliability and validity concerns.
  • ASDA advocates for an ideal licensure exam that does not use human subjects, is psychometrically valid and reliable, is reflective of the scope of current dental practice and is universally accepted. ASDA believes this should be demonstrated through a manikin-based kinesthetic assessment and a non-patient based Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).
  • As of December 2023, at least 48 states (including DC) have moved to permanently accept many of the non-patient-based alternatives they began accepting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Six states now accept the DLOSCE, the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Clinical Examination: Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, and Alaska.

Licensure-ReformInitial dental licensure is an important topic for all dental students to understand. Decisions made today will directly influence how you receive your license.

Licensure can be a complex topic. It is state-driven, meaning each state determines the requirements for receiving a license in that state. Additionally, most dental licenses are only valid in the state in which you became licensed. For example: receiving your license in Washington does not necessarily mean you can practice dentistry in Michigan as well.

But perhaps the most controversial issue with the current dental licensure exam process is that it is performed on a live human subject. Testing on a human opens poses various ethical, reliability and validity concerns. These high-stakes, one-shot testing scenarios on human subjects must end.

Understand ASDA’s position and goals for an ideal exam.

Where is licensure now? 

How the licensure landscape could change in the future.

Resources to learn more.