Process of Getting Your Dental License

By: Savannah Craig

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been following a variety of different checklists over the last 8-10 years to get you closer to your goal of becoming a dentist.

You knew what it took to take the DAT and apply to dental school. Throughout your dental school career, you knew what classes you had to pass and what graduation requirements needed to be completed.

We’re good at following directions and checking boxes to get our diplomas. However, when it came time to actually apply for my license to practice dentistry there was no checklist or guidance to be found!

Let me take this opportunity to walk you through what getting your license might be like.

Steps to Getting Your Dental License

Remember, every state has different requirements so be sure to contact your state dental board for the most updated and specific information, but this list is a good place to start!

1. Apply to Your State Dental Board

First, you must apply to the state dental board of whichever state you are wanting to practice in.

If you’re wanting to be licensed in multiple states, you’ll need to apply for a license in each.

I had to collect a variety of information and forms to upload to the application portal through the state dental board.

  • Official Transcripts: The application required me to obtain official transcripts from my dental school ($12).
  • Medical Examination: I had to have a recent medical examination and have my primary care physician sign a document stating I was able to perform the duties of my chosen career ($30 copay).
  • Background Checks: Licensure in my state required a federal and state background check ($80). The background check had to be completed in the state I wished to obtain licensure. This was challenging because I am currently enrolled in a residency program several states away from where I intend to practice, so I had to make a trip back for my background check.
  • National Board Scores: To obtain a license I also had to submit a screenshot of my National Board Scores Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Proof of Passing Regional Licensure Exam: Upload a document showing I passed my regional licensure exam, and take a Jurisprudence exam. The jurisprudence exam must be notarized before submitting it ($20). Be sure you know if your state requires a regional licensure exam or completion of a residency program to be eligible for licensure.
  • Odd Year Fee: Finally, the fee for my license in an “odd-year” was $270.

In total, it cost $412 to obtain my state license.

2. Obtain a National Provider Identification or NPI Number

In addition to your state license, you need to obtain a National Provider Identification or NPI number. 

This adds you to a national database used to track all physicians, dentists, and other medical providers.

The cost of your NPI number is free. Go to to apply for your NPI number and keep your number in a safe place.

3. Apply for a DEA Number

If you plan to prescribe any controlled substances, including opioid pain medications, or sedation medications for your patients you’ll need to apply for your DEA number.

Your DEA number will be connected to the physical location where you are practicing so it may be advisable to wait to apply for your DEA until you have signed a contract.

The DEA license costs $888 for a 3-year license. If you change practice locations you’ll need to update the address with the DEA.

Visit to start a New Application for your DEA license.

Once approved you’ll get emailed your DEA certificate which can be printed and displayed in your practice. Some states require additional controlled substance permits, so check with your local dental board for more information.

Don’t Be Overwhelmed Getting Your Dental License

This process can seem overwhelming so be sure to take it one step at a time! You’ve worked so hard to get to this point and these documents are required to actually practice your chosen profession!

Photo by Jonathan Borba

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig

Savanah Craig is a graduate of Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. She is currently a 2022 D.D.S. Candidate at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. She will be pursuing a General Practice Residency in Columbia, SC following graduation. In her free time, Savanah enjoys reading, exploring new restaurants, and traveling.