Obtaining Licensure

Licensure is the process whereby a state grants dentists the legal authority to practice dentistry. Each state sets its own licensure requirements. Each state also has a state dental board that monitors the licensure requirements for that state.

ASDA is a leader in dental licensure reform. You can find more information and ways to support ASDA’s efforts in our Licensure Reform section.  

Licensure requirements

Each state sets its own licensure requirements. Use this state map to navigate, or visit your state’s dental board. There is no universal licensure exam (i.e. 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 National Board Dental Examinations to satisfy a major portion of their written exam requirements. The National Board Examination Parts I and II are developed and administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE). The actual exams are conducted by regional or state examining boards.

    The Joint Commission is combining the NBDE Part I and Part II into a singular Integrated National Board Dental Examination (INBDE). Find more information on the transition timeline on the JCNDE website
  3. Clinical

    There are five testing agencies that administer clinical exams on manikins and live patients. 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.

    Recently, the Joint Commission on Dental Examinations announced the release of the Dental Licensure Objective Structured Examination (DLOSCE). The DLOSCE is designed to provide information to US dental boards, concerning whether a candidate for dental licensure possesses the necessary level of clinical skills to safely practice entry-level dentistry. Visit your state dental board website to determine if the exam is accepted for the clinical licensure requirement.

Study Materials

NBDE Reprints: ASDA sells released examinations with actual questions from the NBDE. ASDA members receive a discount.

Dental Decks: ASDA members receive a 10% discount on NBDE and INBDE dental decks. Find information in ASDA Member Benefits.   


Find Dental Licensure posts written by ASDA members.

ASDA Dental Licensure Blog Posts