How To Work As a Dentist in the USA ? All The Steps Explained with Video, Flowchart & Official Links

For many dentists all over the world, working in the USA a dentist is the ultimate dream. The reason being dentistry in the USA is one of the highest paying jobs and dentists are among the highest tax payers. In fact, if you check the latest list of top 10 richest dentists in the world, then you will see that the majority are from the USA. You can see the latest list of the richest dentists in the world here.

But there is a lot of confusion regarding the process. There is also the case of changing visa regulations.

So, we contacted some of the dentists from all over the world who have tried for NBDE exams & DDS. From their experience and online sources, this post was compiled.

This post will give you the basic information on the procedure of DDS and the cost involved. To practice dentistry in the USA you will need to get admission to DDS course being provided in the various dental colleges in the USA.

To practice dentistry in the USA you will need to get admission to DDS course being provided in the various dental colleges in the USA. But for getting admission into DDS you will need to qualify for it by clearing the NBDE exams which consists of 2 parts – NBDE Part 1 & NBDE Part 2.

Please note that the information provided are based on the information provided by past dentists who have tried for DDS or NBDE Exams. The aim is to make the steps simple for the aspirants. The costs and regulations undergo periodic revision. So, after reading this post you are advised to check out the official website of American Dental Association for the latest changes & updates. 

(this post was last updated on 9th May 2017)


The article has been broken down into separate slides to make it easier for you to understand the process. Throughout the article, relevant official links have been provided for reference.

In the last slide of the article, all the official links have been mentioned again in a sequential manner. Also for your ease, a detailed video has been added in the last slide. So, follow all the slides and do check out all the links in the last slide of the article.

Have a look at all the headings that we will be covering in this article

National Board Dental Examinations

NBDE 1, NBDE 2, DDS, Dentistry in USA

For any foreign dentist (outside the USA) who wants to work in the USA as a dentist, there are definite steps that are needed to be completed. These steps and regulations have been laid down by American Dental Association (ADA). Any foreign dentist who wants to legally practice dentistry in the USA must qualify successfully through all the steps.
When it comes to licensing requirements or application to international or advanced standing programs for foreign-trained dentists in the USA, NBDE is by far considered the common denominator and the first step in this long process. 

As of now, the NBDE exam consists of two parts and it’s administered by the ADA Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations (JCNDE).

Before we go into the details, Let us first have a look at all the steps that a dentist has to complete in order to practice dentistry in the USA.

Before you check the flowchart please note the two points.

  • The American Dental Association (ADA) divides the foreign dental degrees into two categories. Accredited Dental Degree & Non-Accredited Dental Degree.
  • You need to check and decide the nature of your dental degree.
  • Check this official link that states all the dental degrees that are considered as accredited by the ADA/CODA.
  • But for most of the dentists who are from outside USA/Canada (whose dental degrees are not mentioned in the link above will need to qualify NBDE Exams and Licensure Exams to qualify to work as a dentist in the USA.

The Sequence of Events

(For International Trained Dentists Wanting to Work as Dentist in the USA)

AFTER BDS / Dental Degree in Your Country/ Or a Dental Student

(Fulfilling the criteria required to apply for the exams)


( Course by course Recommended )

Prepare for NBDE EXAM 


[The DENTPIN (DENTAL Personal Identifier Number) is a unique personal identifier for applicants  & students involved with the U.S. dental education system and standardized testing programs]





And If you Pass the Exams


Attend the personal interview on call


After Completing the DDS the apply for NBDE II





The flow chart above gives you the basic steps needed to be followed by a foreign student to get registered as a dentist in the USA.

Now, let us get into more details. As shown in the flow chart above, NBDE Exams are necessary for any foreign trained dentist to legally complete DDS and practice dentistry in the USA. For appearing in the NBDE exams you also need to create a Dentpin. 

But before you can apply for DENTPIN or appear for the NBDE exams you must get your official Dental Certificates/Transcripts verified by ECE (Educational Credentials Evaluators).

ECE Evaluation

What is ECE – (Official ECE staff statement) For over 36 years ECE has been ensuring that foreign educated people are respected and recognized for their educational achievements.  We welcome you and remain committed to serving refugees, immigrants and US citizens who have been educated in other countries.

You can have a look at the official website of ECE here. (The link will open in new tab & you can continue reading the article) If you want to know what are the basic documents that you need to submit to ECE for evaluation based on your country, then have a look at this official ECE link. At this link, you can enter your country name and get the list of the documents required to be submitted.

Steps in Getting ECE Evaluation done

  • Check out the official ECE Website.
  • Check out the documents required by you to submit here.
  • Contact Educational Credential Evaluators Inc. (ECE) and request a General Report.
  • The ECE evaluation report request will describe what documents are required, the manner in which to submit them to ECE, and the applicable fee.
  • Once you send the documents to ECE, they will assess the documents. After the evaluation, ECE will transfer the official documents to Department Of Testing Services (Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations)
  • Only official reports electronically transmitted from ECE Inc. to the Department of Testing Services will be accepted. Personal copies are not acceptable.
  • If you have already applied for the NBDE Exam, then  The Joint Commission will hold the NBDE examination application, but will not process it before the ECE Evaluation Report is received. The ECE report must be received in the Joint Commission office by the application deadline.


Once you complete the ECE process the next step is to register yourself by opening an account and getting a DENTPIN.


What is DENTPIN – It is a unique personal identifier for professionals and students involved with the U.S. dental education system and standardized testing programs.

Use of DENTPIN – In order to apply to a dental education program or application service, apply to test or request a score report DENTPIN is necessary. The name on your identification card(s) (IDs) must match exactly with the name in your DENTPIN®record.

Points on DENTPIN

  • If you are appearing for the NBDE exams for the first time then you need to register at DENTPIN before you apply for any test.
  • For registering a DENTPIN you can check this official DENTPIN REGISTRATION link.
  • Please register using your legal name as it appears on your government-issued ID (first name, middle name, last name). This is very crucial. There should not be any variations in the name of the candidate.
  • While registering for DENTPIN you are required to provide your personal e-mail id. So you are requested to provide the e-mail id that you monitor regularly.
  • You can use the DENTPIN to apply for both NBDE I & NBDE II.
  • Once you receive your DENTPIN then you are ready to apply for the NBDE Exams.

Applying for NBDE Part 1

Once you have completed the previous 2 steps – You have submitted your documents for ECE evaluation and have registered a DENTPIN, then you can start with applying for the NBDE Exam Part 1.

Apply For NBDE Part I
Point to Note: You can apply for the exam as soon as your receive your DENTPIN number. But the processing of your NBDE Application depends on the processing of your documents by ECE.

The Joint Commission will hold the NBDE examination application, but will not process it before the ECE Evaluation Report is received.
The ECE report must be received in the Joint Commission office by the application deadline.

In the case you have already received your DENTPIN number then you can start with the NBDE application process at the following official link.

A very crucial point to remember: Before you apply please make sure that The name on your IDs must match exactly with the name in your DENTPIN® record. If the name in your DENTPIN® record and the name on your IDs do not match exactly, you will be denied admission to testing and forfeit your testing appointment and application fee. You will be required to submit a new application and fee.

What to do after applying for NBDE Part 1?

  • After completing the above 2 steps you have to wait for the approval of your application. The assessment of your application will be carried out by Department of Testing Services of ADA.
  • The Department of Testing Services will forward your eligibility information to Prometric after your application has been approved, and you will receive an email with testing appointment scheduling instructions.
  • Now you are eligible to schedule a testing appointment and take NBDE Part I. You have only 6 months to apply and schedule a test with Prometric after your application has been approved by Department of Testing.
  • If you cross this 6-month window then you will need to submit a new application and separate fee to take the examination.

Scheduling the NBDE Part 1 Test via Prometric

What is Prometric – Prometric is a private organization that manages the NBDE Exams on the behalf of American Dental Association. (Not only ADA but many government and private organizations all over the world use Prometric to conduct and manage exams for the applicants from all over the world).

  • You can check the Prometric Page for ADA at this link. In that link, you will get few options related to NBDE.
  • You can check for the official guidelines & documents of NBDE 1 related to Prometric.
  • In the link above you will also get the option to schedule your test. Check this official Prometric link.
  • Eligibility to Test
    You must submit an application to test and receive an eligibility letter with an assigned eligibility number from the American Dental Association (ADA) prior to scheduling your testing appointment with Prometric. You can check this link for the official info.
  • After your application has been approved, the Department of Testing Services will send an email to you with testing appointment scheduling instructions. Concurrently, Prometric will also receive notification of your eligibility for NBDE Part I testing. Prometric will not schedule your appointment before receiving and processing authorization from the Department of Testing Services.
  • You need to get in touch with Prometric or Schedule a test at their official Prometric website. While scheduling you will also need to choose a Test Center.

Test Center for NDBE Exams

The NBDE Part I is administered through Prometric Test Centers in the United States, its territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) and Canada. Testing appointments are available year-round.

Use this official Prometric link for locating the test center location for giving NBDE Part 1.

In the case of any doubt always consult the Prometric via their official website or by calling their support section/ Call Center/ Candidate Care Hotline.

Please call Prometric when call volume is low. Call volume is higher on Mondays and Tuesdays and hold times are considerably less after Tuesdays. The Call Center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

Official Support Website: Contact Page

Contact Numbers: Call Center at 800.688.5804 & Candidate Care hotline at 800.853.6769.

Now You Are Ready To Give NBDE PART 1 Exam

Once you complete all the steps mentioned above, you are ready to appear for your NBDE Exams Part 1.

Just for your benefit to recap again, you can have a look at the flow chart we mentioned at the beginning of the article.

In the next Slide, we will see the details about the NBDE PART 1.

In the last slide, you can see the Video Explaining the NBDE Procedure. Do not forget to see the last slide.

Press NEXT to go to the next slide of this article

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