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California Dental Licensure Options

September 29, 2021 1531

A dental license is the first of many licenses, permits, certificates and registrations necessary to practice dentistry as well as to own and operate a dental practice. There are several ways to obtain a dental license in California. This chapter of the toolkit provides information on the requirements, application instructions and links for the most common pathways dental school graduates can take to obtain their California dental license.

Licensure by Clinical Exam (WREB and ADEX)

  • Graduate from a dental school accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) or the  Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC) or a school approved by the Dental Board of California or complete a two-year international dental program at a board-approved dental school.
  • Take and pass parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examination.
  • Take and pass the California Law and Ethics Examination.
  • Take and pass the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) examination or the American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) examination.

Licensure by Portfolio

  • Graduate from a Dental Board of California-approved dental school.
  • Take and pass parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examination.
  • Take and pass the California Law and Ethics Examination.
  • Complete the required competency examinations during clinical training:
    • Comprehensive oral diagnosis and treatment planning.
    • Periodontics.
    • Direct restorations.
    • Indirect restorations.
    • Removable prosthodontics.
    • Endodontics.

Licensure by Residency

  • Graduate from a CODA-accredited or CDAC-accredited dental school.
  • Complete one year of a CODA-accredited general practice residency or advanced program in general dentistry. Applicants must have the residency program director complete the Certification of Clinical Residency Completion (Residency 1) form. Certificate must be completed within two years of license application.
  • Take and pass parts I and II of the National Board Dental Examination.
  • Take and pass the California Law and Ethics Examination.
  • Not have failed the WREB examination within the last five years of application.
  • Some CODA-accredited residency programs not affiliated with a dental school, due to possible federal standards or their own policies, require residents to obtain a license either at the start of a residency program or during the program. This policy has been identified in VA programs and residency programs in other states. Therefore, it is critical that students ask this question before applying to a residency program.

All three licensure pathways require:

  • Applicant be at least 18 years of age.
  • Payment of a nonrefundable application fee of $400, $800 for the residency path.
  • Submission of a completed Out of State/Country Licensure certification form if applicant is licensed in another state or country.

Exam

Portfolio

Residency

Submit a completed WREB application or ADEX application to the board.

Submit to the board completed Request for Portfolio Candidate Identification Number and Law and Ethics Examination Eligibility and Determination of Licensure Eligibility.

Submit a completed application to the board.

  • Provide satisfactory evidence of having passed the National Board Written Examinations. Original score card is required; photocopies will not be accepted.

Furnish a full set of classifiable fingerprints on fingerprint cards provided by the board or electronically through a Live Scan service (only available in California).

Successfully complete the California Law and Ethics Examination

Provide satisfactory evidence of having graduated from a CODA-accredited or CDAC-accredited dental school.

Provide satisfactory evidence of having graduated from a board-approved dental school.

 

Provide satisfactory evidence of having graduated from a CODA-accredited or CDAC-accredited dental school.

Provide satisfactory evidence of having passed, within the five years prior to the date of submitting the license application, a clinical and written examination administered by WREB.

or

Provide satisfactory evidence of having passed after Nov. 15, 2019, the following sections of the ADEX examination: diagnostic skills, periodontal scaling, endodontic, prosthodontic and restorative examination. Original or duplicate success card is required. Photocopies are not acceptable.
 

Submit a completed portfolio to the board within 90 days of graduation.

and

 

Submit a completed Certification of Clinical Residency Completion to the board within two years of completing a CODA-approved general practice residency or other board-approved accrediting body.

 

 

 

Additional Requirements

Submit the Application for Issuance of License and Registration of Place of Practice (will be mailed to the applicant upon completion of all other licensure requirements) and applicable prorated licensing fee.

Additional Requirements

Provide a letter from WREB stating that the applicant has not failed the WREB clinical examination within the last five years.

 

Provide satisfactory evidence of not failing the ADEX examination after Nov. 15, 2019.

  • A cumulative score report that shows no failures is acceptable proof.

A letter signed by the applicant that certifies the applicant has never taken the ADEX examination is acceptable proof.

 

Submit Application for Issuance of License and Registration of Place of Practice (will be mailed to the applicant upon completion of all other licensure requirements).