How to get a United States Dental license – The 13 steps to success for foreign trained dentist

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The journey to getting a U.S. dental license as a foreign trained dentist can be a lot easier with the right guide. Over the past 15 years, MDI Prep has helped hundreds of foreign trained dentist obtain their dental license. In this blog, we will discuss 13 steps that can help you along your journey to become a licensed U.S. dentist.

Step 1 –  Get your DENTPIN and PASS the INBDE exam:

In various other articles we discuss the INBDE exam and how to prepare, please refer to any of the links: INBDE exam pass or fail? – YouTube Caapid template

Step 2 – Pass the TOEFL exam

A competitive score will be at least a 100%. The scores should be sent directly to CAAPID.

Step 3 – Complete the CAAPID application:

When you are completing the CAAPID application, there are several things you must remember. First, send ADA results of your INBDE exam. Second, secure your letters of recommendation early. You will need a letter from the director of your dental program, one from professor, and one from doctors you have worked in the U.S. Five letter of recommendation is a good number to have. The letters needed to be printed, signed and uploaded to the CAAPID site. The letter should be in English. You will want to waive your right to see letter.
  1. Apply to all the schools you want
  2. Be sure to see if they require ECE or WES
  3. Be sure to complete different essays for the particular programs you are applying for

Step 4 – University applications

Once you have completed CAAPID each school will send you their own application on their website. You will essentially have to fill out the same information as you did for CAAPID.

Step 5 – ADAT or not

Most CAAPID programs do not require the ADAT exam. However if you are applying to an advanced standing program, then the ADAT may be required. To learn more about the ADAT, visit: Advanced Dental Admission Test (ADAT) | American Dental Association

Step 6 – The Personal essay:

This is a very important part of your application package. Your personal essay is the only way the admissions committee will get a look into your dental journey. It is advised that you get a professional to edit your personal statement before you submit it to CAAPID. There are several things that must be included in the personal statement.
  • Describe your life’s journey
  • Describe your Dental career
  • Outline your goals in dentistry
  • Discuss your Dental experience in the U.S.

Step 7 – Additional educational achievements:

If you have a master’s degree from a U.S. university this can be favorable for some dental programs. This is not necessary, but it does make you a more competitive applicant.

Step 8 – Grade point average (gpa):

It is important to research the dental programs that you are interested in. Some of them have a minimum grade point average requirement. Make sure you have the minimum, but even if you don’t have the minimum gpa, you may have stronger attributes that could interest the admissions committee enough to extend an interview.

Step 9 – Reapplicants:

Some schools don’t like reapplicants, while other dental programs like the Colorado Dental program likes reapplicants. Be sure to visit different chat pages that discuss the schools you plan on applying to.

Step 10 – Cost of one application cycle:

The cost of one application cycle can vary for each individual. It can range from $2,500 to upwards of $10,000 depending on how many schools you apply to.

Step 11 – The Interview:

It is really exciting to get the interview for admission and there are a few things to remember to ensure a successful interview.  The admissions committee is really looking to find out if you will be a good fit for their program. They obviously think your credentials in the application look good, now it is time to see if they enjoy your personality and professionalism. Check out Dr. Sutton’s tips on a successful interview. How to prepare for your next interview – YouTube  

Step 12 – Spots available per school

Look at how many the applicant each school accepts each year. If a school only accept 5 dentist into their program, make sure you have all the credentials required for that program. The less the number of seats the more competitive that program will be.

Step 13 – The bench test:

Once you have completed the 1st invite interview the programs will require you take the bench test for that school. The cost of the bench can be free at some programs, while others have a fee that ranges anywhere from $500-$1,500. MDI Prep can help you navigate through this sometimes confusing process of obtaining your dental license. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our faculty, visit: These are the 13 steps how a foreign trained dentist can obtain their United States Dental license.

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