Universal Dental Licensure

Post your comments about universal licensure to our blog. Read the dental licensure survey press release.

84% of dentists are in favor of universal licensure

Our latest poll question brought in a record number of responses! We asked: Once a dentist is licensed in one state, should he or she be permitted to practice anywhere in the US?

The answer was an overwhelming “Yes!” Over four out of five dentists responded, “Yes – I support universal licensure across the US.” A minority replied, “No – I support the current system of state-by-state and/or regional licensing.”


The results are clear: Four out of five dentists are in favor of universal licensure.

Read the dentists’ comments

Lots of dentists are undoubtedly hoping for a semi-working retirement where the warm breezes blow.


Of course, the dentists already licensed there are not so eager to share. Over half of the dentists who oppose universal licensure are from the warm and sunny states of Florida, Hawaii, California and Texas. Coincidence? No way!


The interactive map below shows the results on a state-by-state basis. (Flash required.)


Geography seemed to be the most significant factor in dentists’ opinions on universal licensure. In fact, the results were remarkably consistent across
groups – male or female, rural or suburban, general dentist or specialist – none of those distinctions appeared to affect the dentists’ votes.

For more insight into what our respondents are thinking, check out their comments!

Some dentists would like to move

  • “This is SUPPOSED to be a free country where people can relocate as desired. This current system is just regional protectionism. It sucks!” (Massachusetts)
  • “It’s ridiculous how hard it is to move anywhere and practice our profession.” (Colorado)
  • “It does not make sense to have a dentist who’s in good standing and has had years of experience be required to take the Boards of another state he/she would like to move to.” (California)

Some dentists want to protect their turf

  • “Once [one has] passed the Florida board, it is a tough decision to then open it up to everyone. We really can’t have tons of semi-retired folks down here competing. Now, before I took the board at age 50 I would have voted yes.” (Florida)
  • “The fear for those of us in the South West (nice climate etc) is that dentists will come here. But I think if dentists could practice in all states the problems of over and under supply would even out. Besides it would make it easier to sell your practice something I’m starting to think about.” (New Mexico)

Scathing critiques of the current system

  • “The current system is nothing more than protectionism at its worst.” (Florida)
  • “This is THE reason why I am not a member of the ADA and will never rejoin until we have national reciprocity… Florida argues their dentists are superior and don’t want to welcome any of us inferior dentists from other states. Nonsense.” (Indiana)
  • “Our licensure system has been out of touch with the real world for decades. We live in an ever increasing global community and society; it is time that licensure recognized that cultural fact! Let’s get it done and stop talking about it!!” (Massachusetts)
  • “Board exams for initially-licensed dentists are just a source for additional revenue and a way to limit the number of dentists in that state. In brief, it is a scam.” (Michigan)
  • “We all learn the same things in school. People aren’t any different from one state to the next. Licensure by credentials should be the rule.” (New York)
  • “Our Dental Schools are nationally accredited – our licensure should be also.” (Maine)
  • “By not letting us practice any state does that mean that our training is sub-par in certain schools or areas? It really makes no sense.” (Connecticut)
  • “It is ridiculous that one state does not accept another state’s credentialling.” (Illinois)
  • “Don’t you know that teeth are different from one state to the next?” (Pennsylvania)
  • “Humans in all 50 states are similar enough that local examinations shouldn’t be required to prove proficiency for local humans.” (Illinois)

Some suggested restrictions on universal licensure

  • “Universal licensure would be great if the dentist meets a certain criteria. 1) Graduated from a licensed US dental school with good standings. 2) Been in practice for at least 5 years with good standing with the state dental board.” (Colorado)
  • “With successful completion of a jurisprudence exam.” (South Carolina)
  • “Only if the testing is universal.” (Arkansas)

Many see it as an issue of fair trade

  • “And why not…particularly if we are all American citizens. I always thought that restraint of trade was against the law.” (California orthodontist)
  • “Unlike our medical colleagues, it is a legal restriction of trade & would probably lose in a court of law.” (Michigan)

Some other suggestions

  • “Regional Boards are more reasonable. The market will control overcrowding.” (California)
  • “I believe Canadian licensure should also be on par with American licenses after passing local law exams.” (Massachusetts)
  • “Physicians can do it and we, as dentists, have a very low in office patient mortality rate.” (Virginia)
  • “I believe that if the ADA has accredited a dental school here in the US then that graduate should be qualified to practice in any state in the US. Isn’t this an example of restriction of trade?” (Maryland)
  • “I also think written boards are sufficient. A neurosurgeon doesn’t have to perform surgery to get a license. Nurses have reciprocity if they score high enough on their exams.” (Kentucky)

A few voices spoke out against universal licensure

  • “The purpose of credentialing is to prevent dentists who are inept, addicted to drugs, or just plain dumb from going to state to state leaving a wake of disaster behind them. Although a pain to go through the process, I think it is sound. One thing I would like to see changed is the universal acceptance of the boards. However, the credentialing process should not be dropped.” (Michigan)

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