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Dentistry in Canada


Many dentists want to immigrate to Canada but do not know the entire process to work on it. This post has been long-awaited. Before talking about Canadian dentistry, let's see an overview of Canada as a country. Since it's a very widespread country with a minimal population, the Canadian government welcomed over 1,3 million immigrants in 2021. In the last few years, the country has welcomed new immigrants with two available options: Express Entry (Federal Skilled Worker Program - FSWP) or the Provincial Nominee Program.


In Canada, dentistry is a regulated and superlative profession. There are more possibilities for foreigners to get settled there with the help of the work they do. Like every profession, dentistry has its prominence there in Canada because of the limited number of dentists giving rise to less competition, job opportunities, and high income.


As an international dentist in Canada, you must have any of these: BDS/DDS/DMD degree and must be certified by the NDEB (National Dental Examining Board of Canada) to practice in the country. Once you get through the exam, you can practice as a dental surgeon or study further.


NOTE: If you have already done MDS (Post-graduation specialty after BDS) from your home country, there is a different pathway to work as a specialist dentist in Canada. Check out this blog here for more info - https://www.thedentalbooth.com/post/practice-dentistry-in-canada-after-mds. However, that pathway is extremely competitive given the number of seats in dental schools and PR requirements for international dentists. So most dentists with specialization also take the route mentioned below before starting with their specialization route.


There are different ways to get a license to work as a dentist in Canada. Here is a flow chart of the pathways to getting a dentist's license.

Since there are two ways to get a license. The first option is for Graduates from an Accredited Dental Program, and the second option is for Graduates from a Non-Accredited Dental Program. You will be provided licensure only after NDEB certification.


Graduates of accredited dental programs are individuals who have completed an undergraduate dental program offered by a university dental institution that has been recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.

The Accredited Dental Programs are as follows:

1. The Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.

2. American Dental Association.

3. Australian Dental Council for dentists graduated on or after March 31, 2010. 4. Dental Council of New Zealand for graduates on or after December 14, 2011.

5. Irish Dental Council for dentists graduated on or after December 5, 2012.

6. Additional CODA-accredited dental program: Graduate of King Abdulaziz University, after August 1, 2019.


Graduates of non-accredited dental programs are individuals who have received an undergraduate dental degree offered by a university-based dental institution that is not recognized by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada.


All the international dentists from Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, China, Japan, South Korea, etc.) and any other countries other than those belonging to Accredited Dental Program would fall under the Non-Accredited Dental Program.


There are two pathways for graduates of non-accredited dental programs to work as licensed dentists in Canada. They are:

● Completion of the NDEB Equivalency Process - The NDEB Equivalency process comprises three assessments. After successfully completing the NDEB Equivalency Process, you are eligible to go for the NDEB certification process.

● Completion of Accredited Qualifying or Degree Completion Program - Dental faculties and universities in Canada offer these programs. These are custom-designed programs to make international graduates adapt to dentistry and dental practice in Canada. After completion of a Qualifying or Degree completion program, candidates are eligible to attend the NDEB Certification Process.


Before beginning with either of the pathways, you need to apply for NBED Equivalency and Credential Verification. https://ndeb-bned.ca/equivalency-process/how-to-apply/

Once the verification is approved, you can proceed with either the NDEB equivalency process or the degree completion process.



PATHWAY 1 - For the NDEB Equivalency Process, there are 3-step exams: STEP 1: Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK).

- One-day exam.

- 2 papers

- 3 hours per paper.

- 75 MCQs.

- Syllabus is the same as the BDS syllabus.

- Exams are conducted twice a year.

- 3 attempts are allowed.

STEP 2: Assessment of Clinical Judgement (ACJ). - One-day exam. - 5 ½ hour assessment. - 120 - 150 single and MCQs. - Syllabus: Diagnosis, Treatment Planning, etc.

- Exams are conducted twice a year.

- 3 attempts are allowed.

- Exam fees are around 1,300 - 1,500 CAD. https://ndeb-bned.ca/en/non-accredited/clinical-judgement


STEP 3: NDECC

- Two days exam: Clinical Skills & Situational Judgement.

- Clinical skills exams will be on dental procedures like Class 2 amalgam preparation, Class 2 amalgam restoration, Class 2 composite restoration, Class 4 composite restoration, Crown preparation, provisional restoration, etc.

- Situational skills exam will be on patient-centered care, professionalism, communication and collaboration, practice and information management, and health promotion.

- Exams are conducted multiple times a week throughout the year at NDECC Test Center in Ottawa, ON.

- Unlimited attempts are allowed in 60 months period. - Exam fees are around 9,000 - 9,500 CAD. https://ndeb-bned.ca/equivalency-process/ndecc-2/


Once you clear all the 3 steps of the NDEB Equivalency Program or the Degree Completion Program, you'll be eligible for the final qualifying exam i.e., the NDEB Certification Process to work as a dentist in Canada.


All your hard work will work well after you clear this final exam. Be ready to become a licensed dentist in Canada.


Every dental graduate, whether accredited or non-accredited, should give and pass the National Dental Examining Board of Canada's written exams and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) to work as a certified dentist in Canada.


NDEB Certification Process includes two exams.

Written Exam fees are around 1,000 CAD.


EXAM 2: Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

OSCE Exam fees are around 1,000 CAD.


Once you qualify for the NDEB Certification Process, you're all set to start practicing as a dentist in Canada.


PATHWAY 2 - Accredited Qualifying or Degree Completion Program

NOTE: This pathway is more suitable if you already have a Canadian PR or citizenship being an international dentist since most dental schools have a requirement for Canadian PR or citizenship. However, before finalizing on taking this route, please check the requirements of each dental school respectively.


STEP 1: Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK)/ Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT)

*Most colleges require AFK while some colleges like the University of Toronto and McGill university require ADAT.


AFK Details:

- One-day exam.

- 2 papers

- 3 hours per paper.

- 75 MCQs.

- Syllabus is the same as the BDS syllabus.

- Exams are conducted twice a year.

- 3 attempts are allowed.


ADAT Details:


STEP 2: Enroll in a Degree Completion Program.

- 2.5-3 years degree program (DDS for international dentists) at a Dental School in Canada.

- Program fees vary between 150,000 CAD - 200,000 CAD depending on the choice of school.

- Dental Schools with DDS programs in Canada for Internationally Trained Dentists:


Upon successful completion of a Qualifying or Degree Completion Program, you are eligible to participate in the NDEB Certification Process. This will be the last step in the licensure pathway in Canada.


NDEB Certification Process includes two exams.

Written Exam fees are around 1,000 CAD.


EXAM 2: Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

OSCE Exam fees are around 1,000 CAD.


The procedure to become a licensed dentist in Canada is quite long-lasting and draining. But if you're genuinely interested in taking your passion for dentistry to a global level, it is worth the try.


Instead of traveling to Canada from your home country several times to write the exams, it would be better to plan to stay there for a longer time and try to adapt to the dental system in the country and prepare for the exams. There are several coaching education programs available in Canada for guidance throughout the entire process.


P.S.: Once you acquire the license to Canadian dentistry, you're eligible to work in New Zealand and Ireland with the same licensure.


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