I recently graduated from the University of Maryland with my DDS. As a resident of California for twenty-two years prior to beginning dental school, I had planned on returning to Southern California to begin my career as a dentist. This week, I received my license to practice dentistry in California (received license 6 weeks after graduation).

There are three paths to licensure as a dentist in California.

  1. Licensure by residency – complete an accredited GPR or AEGD and receive a license to practice in California. The downside to licensure by residency is that you are limited to practicing in states that accept completion of a residency as a substitute for a regional exam.
  2. Licensure by credential – a dentist is eligible for licensure by credential if he or she has practiced dentistry full-time for at least five of the last seven years in another state.
  3. Licensure by exam – California accepts the Western Regional Board Exam (WREB). The upside of taking a regional exam is the option to practice in multiple states.

I chose to take the WREB as it provides the flexibility to practice in another state that I may find myself seeking employment in, in the future.

The remainder of this post will focus on licensure by WREB.

After passing the WREB exam and graduating from an accredited dental school you are required to take the Dental Board of California (DBC) Law and Ethics exam. Apply to take this exam by filling out the WREB applicant form found on the DBC website. Your paperwork will be processes and you will be provided a file number that can be used to schedule a time to take this exam at a PSI testing center.

For more information about the law and ethics exam, read my post about how to study for the California Dental Board Law and Ethics exam.

While waiting for approval to take the ethics exam, submit your fingerprint via Live Scan (I found a local UPS store that provided this service). I recommend mailing a copy of your Live Scan form to the DBC. This is also a good time to submit official copies of your National Board scores and WREB results to the DBC.

After passing the law and ethics exam and submitting the Live Scan form, NBDE exam scores, and WREB results, apply for a California dental license.

Once approved, you will receive a license number.

With an active license you can now apply for an NPI number and malpractice insurance.