Registration Requirements for Specialists

It is possible to obtain licensure only as a specialist and avoid the process described for general dentistry or register as both a general practitioner and as a specialist. The choice is yours.

If you intend to be registered/licensed only as a specialist, then your practice will be restricted to the scope of practice of that specialty. You would not be permitted to perform general dentistry.

For internationally trained dental specialists, there are two routes to qualify for specialty registration/licensure:

1. Complete an accredited specialty program (your best option) in Canada or the United States which would then make you eligible to challenge the Canadian national specialty examination administered by the Royal College of Dentists of Canada, which is the final requirement.

2. Apply under the specialty assessment protocol. The first phase involves a credential review and an examination that determines entrance to the assessment phase. The assessment phase can be up to 3 months long at the end of which a participating university/school will determine if the candidate has any deficiencies. If there are deficiencies, then there will be a determination as to whether or not they can be remedied within one year (including the time taken for the assessment). If the belief is that the deficiencies cannot be rectified within one year, then the candidate will be informed that he/she must apply to a full-time, accredited specialty program.

Please contact the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) for information on this process. Be sure to carefully review the information available on the NDEB website, and follow the instructions.

There are also very specific criteria for admittance into the credential phase. Please read the NDEB instructions very carefully to avoid difficulties or expense. If you have any questions contact the NDEB at or 613-236-5912.

Due to limitations in government funding, resources, facilities and much more, it is important to realize that seats in these assessment programs are limited. In some cases only one seat per year in a given specialty. Competition is intense. There is no guarantee of any kind that a candidate will be accepted or will find a placement for gap training at a university.

Given the limitations, candidates would have far more opportunity if they were to apply to any number of universities in Canada or the United States and attend a full-time, accredited specialty program.

Another alternative is to complete the two-year qualifying program or attempt the NDEB Equivalency Process for general dentistry. Once registered as a general dentist, you could, if you choose, limit your practice to that of your specialty.

Be aware, however, that you would not be able to hold yourself out or promote yourself as a specialist – only registered/licensed specialists are permitted to hold themselves out as specialists.

Typically as well, insurance companies in paying claims tend to pay using the general fee guide and not the specialty fee guide if you are not a registered/licensed specialist.