California dentists should review C.E. requirements as dental board resumes audits

Complete mandatory C.E., confirm validity of course providers
May 11, 2023
Quick Summary:
CDA encourages dentists to review continuing education rules and requirements as the Dental Board of California resumes conducting C.E. audits this year. The board will mail audit notices to randomly selected licensees who have 30 days to respond with all requested C.E. documentation. Common C.E. deficiencies include (1) licensee has not competed a mandatory C.E. course and/or the minimum required units for license renewal and (2) licensee did not take a mandatory C.E. course from a board-approved provider.

CDA encourages dentists to review continuing education rules and requirements as the Dental Board of California resumes conducting C.E. audits this year. 

The dental board will mail audit notices to randomly selected licensees. While the odds of being selected for a C.E. audit are low, licensed dentists should ensure their correct address is recorded in BreEZe ― the Department of Consumer Affairs’ online licensing and enforcement system. Licensees who receive an audit notice have 30 days from the date of notice to respond with all requested C.E. documentation. 

Practice owners are additionally responsible for knowing the C.E. requirements of their employees and ensuring, for example, that dental assistant employees provide evidence of certain completed courses and certifications. 

Mandatory C.E. courses and required minimum units for renewal

Common C.E. deficiencies identified by past dental board audits include:

  • Licensee has not completed a mandatory C.E. course.
  • Licensee has not completed the minimum required units for renewal.
  • Licensee did not take a mandatory C.E. course from a provider approved by the dental board to provide the mandatory C.E.

Currently, California-licensed dentists are required to complete four mandatory courses and a minimum of 50 units to renew their license. Registered dental assistants and RDAs in extended functions must complete three mandatory courses and 25 units for license renewal. Anesthesia and sedation permits have additional minimum C.E. requirements. 

The mandatory courses are:

  1. Board-approved course in infection control (2 units).
  2. Board-approved course on the California Dental Practice Act (2 units).
  3. Course in basic life support provided by either a CERP or PACE provider or by the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or, as of January 2023, the American Safety and Health Institute.
  4. (For dentists only) Board-approved course on the responsibilities and requirements of prescribing schedule II opioid drugs (2 units).

A portion of the basic life support course may be completed online, but licensees must complete an in-person, hands-on skills practice session to satisfy the mandatory C.E. requirement.  

The required course on opioid-prescribing is a newer requirement effective January 2023, as CDA reported last fall. (Relatedly, dentists with DEA registration must comply with a new federal act requiring opioid use disorder training. Read the CDA article published in March for details.)

Mandatory C.E. courses only count when provided by approved entities

To qualify for license renewal, mandatory C.E. courses must be taught by an approved provider.

As already noted, the course in basic life support must be provided by either a CERP or PACE provider, the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross or American Safety and Health Institute (the latter as of Jan. 1, 2023).

Courses on infection control, the Dental Practice Act and the responsibilities of opioid prescribing will only count toward license renewal if they are taught by providers preapproved by the dental board. For example, the board approved the CDA course “Responsibilities and Requirements for Prescribing Controlled Substances (Schedule II Opioid Drugs)," created in partnership with Western University of Health Sciences, to satisfy the newest license renewal requirement.

Dentists can use the BreEZe license search tool to determine if a course provider is approved. Registered C.E. providers must have a “current-active” (not expired) permit to be valid.

Scope of license and permits may affect eligibility for C.E. credit

The education a licensee receives does not necessarily enable them to perform the services within that course and, in some cases, may not qualify for C.E. credit. For example, a course related to the provision of elective facial cosmetic surgery would not enable the licensee to perform such services unless the attendee has an EFCS permit (see 16 CCR 1016(b)(4)(F)).

Licensees should evaluate the educational value of C.E. courses and are always responsible for knowing the scope of their license and permits.

For further reading, see the dental board’s page on C.E. requirements and CDA’s Continuing Education Requirements and FAQ (login required). Also see CDA’s Dental Assisting Categories for dental assistants’ education requirements and allowable duties. 


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