Skip to main content


Regulatory Compliance Tips for New Dentists

June 30, 2022 644

Once a dental license is obtained, a new dentist should complete at least one additional step before starting work. Other steps should be taken soon after starting work. A new dentist also should be aware of certain regulatory compliance matters that can affect their license.

Obtain National Provider Identification number

Every licensed dentist should have an individual (Type 1) NPI number prior to working as a dentist. The Type 1 number is used to identify a prescriber on prescriptions and the treating provider on treatment claim submissions. A new dentist need not obtain a Type 2 NPI number until they form a business entity, such as a sole proprietorship or dental corporation, which will bill third-party payers for treatment. A dentist may have several Type 2 NPI numbers in the course of their professional career but only one Type 1 number. Apply for an NPI number through the National Plan & Provider Enumeration System,

Register place or places of practice

A licensed dentist is required to register with the Dental Board of California their place or places of practice, or if they have no place of practice, within 30 days of obtaining their license. A dentist also must notify the board within 30 days of starting at a new place of practice or leaving a practice. Written notification of place of practice must be done on a board-approved form, “DDS Change of Address,” found on or through the state website,

Register with DEA and CURES

A dentist who prescribes administers or dispenses controlled substances must register with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Separate California registration is not required. The DEA registration is address-specific therefore a new dentist should not start their application until a practice location is confirmed. Additional DEA registration is required if a dentist stores and dispenses or administers controlled substances at more than one facility or practice. If a dentist only prescribes controlled substances at another facility or other dental practices within the same state of their DEA registration, then additional DEA registration is not required.

Every prescriber with a DEA registration must register to access CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System), California’s prescription drug monitoring database, Access credentials must be updated regularly and the Department of Justice audits for appropriate use of the database. A prescriber is required to check CURES for a patient’s controlled substances prescription history before prescribing a Schedule II–IV drug. More information on utilizing CURES is available on in the resource titled “Prescribing & Dispensing Q&A.”

If a dentist does not prescribe, administer or dispense controlled substances, registration with the DEA or CURES is not required. However, know that some dental benefit plans require a dentist to have a DEA registration as part of the credentialing process. A dentist who intends not to prescribe controlled substances should contact the plans with which they are contracted to confirm the plans’ requirements on DEA registration.

A dentist who does not have a DEA registration must still pay the CURES fee that is included as part of the biennial dental license renewal fee.


Electronic data prescriptions are required in California as of Jan. 1, 2022, with few exceptions. A new dentist may be required to register to use an employer’s prescribing software so that prescribing information is automatically entered into a patient’s record. A dentist also can choose to subscribe to stand-alone prescribing software that can be used at more than one location. Find more information in “Prescribing & Dispensing Q&A” on

Comply with practice name and ownership requirements

A practice owner should know that the name of a dental practice or dental corporation may only utilize the name of the licensed dentist owner or owners, unless the owner or owners obtain a fictitious name permit from the dental board,

A dental practice may be owned only by a licensed dentist or dentists. The majority ownership of a dental corporation must be a licensed dentist or dentists except in one limited circumstance. Shareholders in a dental corporation may include nondentists in limited circumstances. Legal counsel should be consulted when considering nondentist ownership in a dental corporation.

An additional office permit from the dental board is required if a dentist has a proprietary interest or right to participate in the management or control of more than one dental practice.

Understand C.E. rules for postgrad, first license renewal

Continuing education units earned toward license renewal must be delivered by the Dental Board of California-registered continuing education providers, American Dental Association CERP providers or Academy of General Dentistry PACE providers. The board will consider granting continuing education credit for courses offered by nonapproved out-of-state providers if the dentist submits an application before license renewal. Continuing education units also may be earned through the completed curriculum in the license renewal period in a residency program or postdoctoral specialty program approved by the board or the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation. If audited, a dentist must be able to provide school transcripts to the board.

A dentist renewing their license for the first time is exempt from the continuing education requirement. For additional information on C.E. requirements, see the board website at

Understand the scope of practice and supervision

Primary care clinics and clinics owned or operated by a hospital or nonprofit corporation may employ dental professionals but these entities may not interfere with, or otherwise direct, the professional judgment of a dentist or licensed dental auxiliary acting within their scope of practice. The supervising licensed dentist is responsible for determining the competency of the dental assistant to perform basic supportive dental procedures.

Understand rules on associate dentist access to patient information

Unless the employment agreement prohibits it, a dentist who is a former associate in a dental practice may notify the patients they treated of a new practice location. This practice is supported by the CDA Code of Ethics. In compliance with state and federal privacy laws, a former associate dentist may not further use the contact information to solicit the patients or to otherwise use patient health information from that dental practice without first obtaining written authorization from the patient. When purchasing a dental practice, the new owner should obtain patient authorization to release records to the new owner. See “Uses and Disclosures of Patient Health Information” on for additional information on the rules.

Regulatory Compliance Checklist

This online resource has more information on a dentist’s regulatory compliance requirements. Find it on CDA members also may call or email practice support analysts with their questions.




Comments are only visible to subscribers.