Board rules and state law require that anyone engaged in the practice of dentistry hold an active license to practice in the state of Iowa.
Practice of Dentistry Defined
“Practice of dentistry” includes the rendering of professional services in this state as an employee or independent contractor or the rendering of any dental decisions, including diagnosing, treatment planning, determining the appropriateness of proposed dental care, or engaging in acts that constitute the practice of dentistry. The following classes of persons shall also be deemed to be engaged in the practice of dentistry:
- Persons publicly professing to be dentists, dental surgeons, or skilled in the science of dentistry, or publicly professing to assume the duties incident to the practice of dentistry.
- Persons who perform examinations, diagnosis, treatment, and attempted correction by any medicine, appliance, surgery, or other appropriate method of any disease, condition, disorder, lesion, injury, deformity, or defect of the oral cavity and maxillofacial area, including teeth, gums, jaws, and associated structures and tissue, which methods by education, background, experience, and expertise are common to the practice of dentistry.
- Persons who offer to perform, perform, or assist with any phase of any operation incident to tooth whitening, including the instruction or application of tooth whitening materials or procedures at any geographic location. For purposes of this paragraph, “tooth whitening” means any process to whiten or lighten the appearance of human teeth by the application of chemicals, whether or not in conjunction with a light source.
Note: Students enrolled in an accredited dental school are exempt from the requirements for licensure for all activities directly related to the curriculum and activities of the accredited program. Dentists enrolled in a residency program in Iowa must apply for and be issued a resident license before practicing clinically.
Eligibility for a Permanent License
A permanent dental license authorizes the holder to practice dentistry in the state of Iowa. Requirements for obtaining an Iowa dental license are found in Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11.
A dentist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental school and who has successfully completed the CRDTS, WREB, CDCA/ADEX, CITA or SRTA examination is eligible to apply for a dental license in Iowa on the basis of examination. Applicants who have been licensed for one (1) year or longer must apply by credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.
A dentist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental school and who has successfully completed the CRDTS, WREB, CDCA/ADEX, CITA or SRTA clinical examination within the previous five years OR has at least three years of current, active practice in another state may be eligible for a permanent dental license issued on the basis of credentials. Applicants who have been licensed in another state for one (1) year or longer must apply on the basis of credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.
A dentist who has been licensed and practicing in another state may apply on the basis of verification if they do not qualify for licensure on the basis of examination or credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.
Applicants for a permanent dental license issued on the basis of examination must have successfully completed one of the following clinical examinations:
Beginning in February 2021, the Iowa Dental Board accepts the patient-based and manikin-based clinical examinations for the following examinations:
- Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS)
- Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB)
- Southern Regional Testing Agency (SRTA)
- Commission on Dental Competency Assessments (CDCA)
- Council of Interstate Testing Agencies, Inc. (CITA)
- American Board of Dental Examiners (ADEX) as administered by CDCA, WREB, SRTA or CITA.
Note: Applicants who have been licensed for one (1) year or longer in another state must apply on the basis of credentials or verification. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.
Information about taking a clinical exam, including the exam schedule and testing procedures, should be obtained directly from the testing agencies.
Please note that applicants who fail the clinical licensing examination two or more times must submit proof of additional formal remedial education that is approved in advance by the Board, prior to each subsequent exam attempt. See Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 12 for more information.
Applicants for a permanent dental license or faculty permit must also take the Iowa jurisprudence examination. After you have submitted your application for licensure, the Board office will send you information about taking the exam. Make arrangements directly with one of the Iowa community college testing sites. Please note that a proctor fee set by the community college testing site for the jurisprudence exam will be paid directly to the community college testing site. After taking the examination, the testing site will mail or fax the answer sheet to the Board office for scoring. You will then receive written confirmation of your score.
The jurisprudence exam is based on information contained in Iowa Code chapters 147, 153, 272C, and 650 Iowa Administrative Code. To study for the exam, it is recommended that you download a copy of the Board rules from this website. A written copy of the rules may also be ordered for a small fee. The exam consists of multiple choice and true/false questions.
Graduates of Foreign Dental Schools
To be eligible, graduates of foreign dental schools must complete a postgraduate general practice residency of at least one (1) year, or two (2) years of undergraduate supplemental education at an accredited dental school. While the foreign dental school graduate does not need to have a D.D.S. or D.M.D. degree, the applicant must submit evidence showing that the educational requirements have been met. A diploma, degree or certificate must be awarded to the applicant upon successful completion of the program.
According to the American Dental Association, there are a number of U.S. dental schools that offer the type of education program described in the Board’s rules. These programs are designed specifically for international dentists and differ from “advanced standing” programs. In addition to these programs, about half of the accredited U.S. dental schools consider graduates of foreign dental schools for advanced standing admission – meaning the gradate may be eligible to be admitted to the regular dental degree program as a second or third year student. For more information about any of these programs, contact the dental school directly.
In addition to the training requirement at an accredited school, to be eligible for licensure foreign graduates must also provide verification of all licenses held, if any, and must also demonstrate English proficiency. The graduate must also meet all other requirements for licensure, including completion of the National Board examination and a clinical licensing examination.
For more information about licensure of foreign dental graduates in other states, visit the website of the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA publishes an excellent resource for international graduates called United States Licensure for International Dentists, 2005. This document includes information on admission to the United States, dental licensure, basic dental education and advanced dental education, licensure information for each state, as well as contact information for all of the international programs mentioned above. The document is available on the ADA’s website.
Licensure by Verification
As a result of legislative changes, graduates of foreign dental schools may apply for a license on the basis of verification if the applicant holds a current, active license in another state. For more information, please contact the Board at IDB@iowa.gov.
A foreign dental school graduate who does not meet the requirements specified above may be eligible to apply for a waiver of these rules. In general, the Board has approved waiver requests in cases where the applicant has completed at least one year of a general practice residency program at an accredited dental school. Since the Board cannot issue limited licenses based on specialty type, the Board has not approved waiver requests from applicants who have completed residency programs in any other specialty. In addition, the Board has not approved waiver requests from graduates of foreign dental schools who were licensed in other states (like Minnesota or California) by credentials review without having also completed general practice education through an accredited dental school.
For more information about the waiver process, including a sample waiver petition, please contact the Board office at IDB@iowa.gov or 515-281-5157. You can also find some information pertaining to waiver petitions here.