Dentists > Licensure
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” 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.
Eligibility for a Permanent License
A permanent dental license authorizes the holder to practice dentistry in the state of Iowa. Complete Board rules on eligibility requirements can be found in Chapter 11 of the rules section.
A dentist who is a graduate of an ADA-accredited dental school and who has completed the CRDTS examination in the last five years, or has completed the WREB examination prior to September 1, 2011, is eligible to apply for a dental license in Iowa on the basis of examination. A dentist who has completed a different licensing examination or took an examination more than five years ago may be eligible to apply for a dental license on the basis of 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 a current, valid dental license in another state that was issued on the basis of clinical examination OR at least three years of current, active practice in that state may be eligible for a permanent dental license issued on the basis of credentials. Please refer to Iowa Administrative Code 650--Chapter 11 for specific requirements.
How to Obtain an Application
Eligibility for a Resident License
A dentist or dental hygienist seeking to practice as a resident, intern or graduate student in a Board-approved teaching or educational institution offering specialty oriented courses may be eligible to apply for a resident license. A resident license authorizes the holder to practice as a resident, intern, or graduate student under the supervision of a licensed dentist or faculty permit holder. The University of Iowa College of Dentistry sets requirements for admission to their advanced education programs in all dental specialties. University training programs are fully accredited by the Commission on Dental Education of the American Dental Association.
Contact the university for more information about their specialty training programs. Upon admission to the program, the university will coordinate the application process to obtain a resident license issued by the Board.
A resident license, once issued, is valid for the expected length of the training program. The program director of the residency program must submit an annual progress report on the status of residents under their supervision and whether any disciplinary actions were taken. A resident license may be extended past the original expected completion date of the training program if needed. A resident who needs to extend the expiration date of the license must submit an extension application to the Board office that includes a letter explaining the need for an extension, an extension fee, and a statement from the director of the resident training program attesting to the progress of the resident in the training program, the new expected date of completion of the program, and whether any disciplinary actions have been taken.
A resident licensee who changes resident training programs must apply for a new resident license and also include a statement from the director of the applicant’s most recent residency program documenting the applicant’s progress in the program. In addition, if a resident licensee leaves the program during the tenure of residency, the license is considered null and void. The program director should also notify the Board of the licensee concluding their participation within the program.
Eligibility for a Faculty Permit
A faculty permit authorizes the holder to practice dentistry or dental hygiene as a faculty member within the University of Iowa College of Dentistry or a dental hygiene program and affiliated teaching facilities. The dean of the college or hygiene program must certify to the Board that the applicant has been offered a faculty position. Applications for a faculty permit are available through the College of Dentistry. Applicants are required to complete a criminal history background check, license verifications from all states in which the applicant is licensed, proof of current certification in CPR, and other documentation.
A faculty permit is valid only so long as the holder remains a member of the faculty of the college of dentistry or faculty of a dental hygiene program in Iowa. Permit holders must follow all provisions of law related to the practice in Iowa.
Faculty permits expire on August 31 of every even-numbered year. Renewal of the permit requires 30 hours of continuing education and proof of current CPR.
How to Obtain an Application
The University of Iowa will provide an application for a resident license upon admission to the residency program or an application for a faculty permit when appropriate.
Eligibility for a Temporary Permit
A temporary permit may be issued to authorize a permit holder to practice dentistry or dental hygiene on a short-term basis in Iowa at a specific location(s). Temporary permits may be issued only for the following reasons:
- To fulfill an urgent need;
- To serve an educational purpose; or
- To provide volunteer services.
A temporary permit is NOT meant as a way to practice before a permanent license is granted or as a means to practice because the applicant does not fulfill the requirements for a permanent license. Temporary permits may be granted on a case-by-case basis. The issuance of a temporary permit has no long-term implications for licensure.
Temporary permits are issued to applicants for practice at a specific location or locations in Iowa for a specified period, up to three months. If the need changes or the permit holder wishes to continue in short-term assignments in other Iowa locations, the permit holder is expected to seek permanent licensure. Following expiration of the permit, the permit holder must either obtain a new temporary permit to continue to practice in Iowa or obtain a permanent license. A person may be issued not more than three temporary permits to fulfill an urgent need or serve an educational purpose.
Application for a temporary permit requires the applicant to provide background information, copies of credentials, and verification of all credentials. Proof of current CPR is also required for temporary permit applicants. All temporary permit applicants must also submit a letter of need that establishes the need for the permit, dates the applicant’s services are needed, and the location or locations where services will be delivered.
To be eligible for a temporary permit to fulfill an urgent need or serve an educational purpose, applicants must hold an active license in another state that was issued on the basis of clinical examination and applicants must have been engaged in practice for three years immediately preceding application for the temporary permit. To be eligible for a temporary permit to provide volunteer services, applicants must hold an active, permanent license to practice in at least one state. The license must have been issued on the basis of clinical examination. A temporary permit to provide volunteer services is valid for a specific location, which must be a free clinic or a dental clinic for a nonprofit organization, and the applicant cannot receive compensation for providing dental services.
All potential applicants for a temporary permit are encouraged to contact the Board office prior to applying to review their eligibility for a permit and approximate dates the permit is needed to expedite processing of the application. To find a complete list of all required documents and credentials, including a checklist for completing your application, visit the forms section of the website.
How to Obtain an Application
Applicants for a permanent dental license issued on the basis of clinical examination must have completed the examination administered by the the Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS) within the last five (5) years, or the Western Regional Examining Board, Inc. (WREB) prior to September 1, 2011. If you do not meet this requirement, or if you completed a different clinical licensing examination, you may be eligible to apply for a license on the basis of credentials.
Information about taking the CRDTS exam, including the exam schedule and testing procedures should be obtained directly from CRDTS. Visit their website at www.crdts.org.
Please note that applicants who fail the clinical licensing examination two or more times must submit proof of additional formal education that is approved in advance by the Board, prior to each subsequent exam attempt.
Applicants for a permanent dental license must also take the Iowa jurisprudence examination. After you have submitted your application for licensure, the Board office will send you authorization to sit for the jurisprudence examination, as well as a list of testing sites. To take the examination, 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. Please note that due to confidentiality provisions in state law, exam results cannot be provided over the phone.
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 or false questions.
Graduates of Foreign Dental Schools
The Board finalized a rule in March 2004 that establishes a pathway for foreign dental graduates to obtain licensure in Iowa. To be eligible, graduates of foreign dental schools must complete two years of undergraduate education at an accredited dental school. While the foreign dental school graduate does not need to be awarded a DDS or DMD degree, the dean of the undergraduate dental education program must verify that the applicant has achieved the same level of didactic and clinical education as a graduate of the dental college. 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 two years of undergraduate dental education at an accredited school, to be eligible for licensure in Iowa graduates of foreign dental schools must also provide verification that they were licensed or eligible for license in their home country 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.
A foreign dental school graduate who does not meet the requirements specified above may be eligible to apply for waiver of these rules. In general, the Board has only approved candidates for waiver if the applicant has completed at least two years of a general practice residency program at an accredited dental school or a combination of at least one year of a general practice residency plus at least one year of pediatrics residency training at an accredited dental school. Because 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.
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.
Completed Application Received & Reviewed
Applications are reviewed in the Board office in the order received. Priority of applications is assigned based on the date the application is received in the office and the date the office has a fully completed application. An application is not considered complete until all requested documentation has been received. Typically, it takes several weeks to review and issue a license or permit application. Please allow sufficient time for processing of your application.
To expedite processing of an application, be sure to include the required, nonrefundable fee (your application will not be reviewed without the fee) and submit all required documents and credentials. Each application has a checklist that details all required documents and credentials. Be sure to include all requested documentation and mail verification forms to the appropriate agency. Upon receipt, applications are reviewed for completeness. After reviewing each application, staff will notify the applicant about how to resolve any problems identified by the reviewers.
PLEASE NOTE: Applications are considered active for only 180 days from the date the application is received in the Board office. If an applicant has not supplied all requested documentation within180 days, a new application and fee must be submitted before a license will be issued. If the applicant does not meet the requirements for a license or permit, the application is considered incomplete. An applicant whose application is filed incomplete must submit a new application and fee.
Administrative Issuance of License/Permit or Referral to License/Registration Committee
If the final review indicates no questions or concerns regarding the applicant's qualifications for licensure, Board rules authorize the executive director to administratively grant the license or permit.
The executive director may also refer the application to the License/Registration Committee for review and consideration when matters including, but not limited to, prior criminal history, chemical dependence, competency, physical or psychological illness, malpractice claims or settlements, or professional disciplinary history are relevant in determining the applicants’ qualifications for license, permit, or registration.
Following review and consideration of a referred application, the License Committee may, at its discretion:
- Defer final action if there is a pending investigation or disciplinary action;
- Request that the applicant appear for an interview;
- Recommend issuance of the license or permit;
- Recommend denial of the licenseor permit; or
- Recommend issuing the licenseor permit under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.
- Refer the license or permit application to the Board for review and consideration without recommendation.
Final Board Action on Committee Recommendation
Following review and consideration of an application referred by the License/Registration Committee the Board takes final action to:
- Authorize the issuance of the license or permit,
- Deny the issuance of the license or permit, or
- Authorize the issuance of the license or permit under certain terms and conditions or with certain restrictions.
The Board may deny an application for license or permit for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to meet the requirements for the license or permit.
- Failure to provide accurate and truthful information, or the omission of material information.
- For any of the grounds for which licensure may be revoked or suspended.
Denial of Licensure – Appeal Process
Prior to denial of licensure, the Board issues a written Preliminary Notice of Denial that cites the factual basis for denying the application. An applicant who receives a Preliminary Notice of Denial may appeal the notice and request an appeal hearing. At the appeal hearing, the applicant has the burden to persuade the Board on their qualifications for licensure. After the hearing the Board may grant the license, grant the license with restrictions, or deny the license. If an applicant does not appeal a Preliminary Notice of Denial, the denial automatically becomes final within 30 days of mailing the Preliminary Notice of Denial. Both the Preliminary Notice of Denial and Final Decision of the Board is a public record.
Licenses & Permits Expire on August 31
All dental licenses and faculty permits expire on August 31 of every even-numbered year. Moderate sedation and general anesthesia permits also expire on August 31 of every even-numbered year. Approximately 60 days prior to expiration of the license or permit, an application for renewal will be mailed to your preferred mailing address.
Renewal Application Requirements
To renew a dental license or faculty permit the following must be submitted to the Board office on or before August 31st:
- Completed renewal application with all questions answered;
- A statement confirming current certification in CPR from nationally-recognized course that includes a "hands-on" clinical component, including the date of expiration and acknowledging that proof of certification in CPR must be provided upon request;
- Payment of renewal fee; and
- Certification of completion of 30 hours of continuing education or an approved exemption. Please refer here for additional information pertaining to continuing education requirements.
After August 31, a late fee for renewal is assessed. View late renewal fees here. Failure to renew prior to November 1 shall cause the license to lapse and become invalid for practice. If your license has lapsed, you will be required to submit an application for reinstatement of the license, including required documents and credentials, the reinstatement application fee, and payment of all past due renewal fees.
Reinstatement of a Lapsed License
A dentist who allows a license to lapse by failing to renew may be reinstated at the discretion of the Board. To request reinstatement of a lapsed license, the following information must be submitted to the Board office:
- A completed application for reinstatement of a lapsed license;
- Written verification of any licenses held in other states;
- Reasons for seeking reinstatement and why the license was not maintained;
- Proof of current CPR certification;
- Evidence of completion of a total of 15 hours of continuing education for year the license was lapsed, up to a maximum of 75 hours; and
- Payment of all renewal fees past due, not to exceed $750, plus the reinstatement fee and fingerprint evaluation fee.
The Board may require a licensee applying for reinstatement to successfully complete an examination designated by the Board prior to reinstatement if necessary to ensure the licensee is able to practice with reasonable skill and safety. The Board typically requires re-examination if a licensee has not provided clinical patient care in the previous five years.
When the Board finds that a practitioner applying for reinstatement is or has been subject to disciplinary action taken against a license held by the applicant in another state of the United States, District of Columbia, or territory, and the violations which resulted in such actions would also be grounds for discipline in Iowa, the Board may deny reinstatement of a license to practice dentistry in Iowa or may impose any applicable disciplinary sanctions as a condition of reinstatement.
How to Obtain an Application
To request a written verification/certification of your Iowa license and/or permit, please complete the request form and submit the form to the Board office with the appropriate fees. You may access that form here.