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Career Map: Dentist

This document was developed in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and updated in February 2016. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario before completing your application.

Copyright in this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, ©  2016. This Career Map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the Career Map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this Career Map requires a written license from the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario.

Access to the Dental Profession in Ontario

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (College) regulates the dentistry profession in the province of Ontario, which passed the first Dental Act in the world into law on March 4, 1868. The College is responsible for:

  • setting the education and other qualifications necessary to enter the profession
  • setting standards of professional practice for the dental profession
  • setting ethical standards
  • investigating complaints for people who feel that the standards have not been met
  • taking appropriate disciplinary action as necessary
  • protecting the public’s right to quality dental services
  • providing leadership to the profession in self-regulation

The rules concerning the licensing of dentists in Ontario are set out in provincial legislation – the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Dentistry Act, 1991 – and the regulations made under these acts.

By law, no one is allowed to practise as a dentist in Ontario without a licence issued by the College known as a Certificate of Registration. There are different classes of certificate depending on your situation, for example, whether you are a student, a visiting intern or a professor. Most applicants seek a General Certificate which grants the full, unrestricted right to deliver dental services to the public of Ontario.

This Career Map focuses on obtaining a General Certificate of Registration. For other classes of certificate, please visit the College’s website.

There are over 9,300 dentists in Ontario. Dentists perform some or all of the following duties:

  • examine patients’ teeth, gums and surrounding tissue to diagnose disease, injury and decay and plan appropriate treatment
  • restore and extract diseased and decayed teeth
  • perform oral surgery, periodontal surgery and other treatments
  • clean teeth and instruct patients on oral hygiene
  • design bridgework, fit dentures and provide appliances to correct abnormal positioning of the teeth and jaws, or write fabrication instructions or prescriptions for use by denturists and dental technicians
  • provides direction in a dental practice to dental hygienists, supervises dental assistants and other staff

Dentists’ offices tend to be open four to six days a week. Many dentists practice on their own but they make work in partnerships and associateships. Dentists also work in hospitals, as administrators, researchers and teachers, and for the military.

Registration Requirements

Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland operate according to a mutually recognized system of accreditation of dental training. Accordingly, graduates of Canadian, American, Australian(Australian candidates must have graduated on or after March 31, 2010), New Zealander (New Zealand candidates must have graduated on or after December 14, 2011) or Irish (Irish candidates must have graduated on or after December 5, 2012) accredited dental programs are eligible to apply directly to sit the national examinations – a written and an Objective Structured Clinically Examination (OSCE) – administered by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). If your dental training was outside of these jurisdictions then you are considered to be "internationally trained." To practise as a dentist in Ontario, you must successfully complete a full-time, two-year qualifying program or the "NDEB Equivalency Process". For the internationally trained these two paths are the only means by which you can become eligible to take the NDEB national examinations – a requirement for all candidates. We suggest you visit the College website and review the section labeled "Assessing Training Completed Outside of Canada." It offers additional insight and information on immigrating, differences in global dental training, explanations on our national examinations and assessments and more.

The qualifying programs are known by several names, including:

  • degree completion or advanced standing programs,
  • Internationally Trained Dentists Program, or
  • International Dentist Advanced Placement program.

Many universities in Canada and the United States offer these programs. The NDEB conducts the assessments that helps determine (in Canada) who requires the Qualifying Programs and who is eligible to proceed through the Equivalency Process. If it is determined that you require a Qualifying Program then your next step is to apply to the University of your choice and pass that University’s admission’s tests. Admission’s tests vary from University to University. Some use different parts of the NDEB assessments. They may also do their own assessment of your academic and dental knowledge as well as testing your language proficiency in English or French.

In Ontario, Qualifying Programs are offered at:

University of Toronto
Faculty of Dentistry

124 Edward Street
Toronto ON M5G 1G6 Canada
Phone: 416-979-4900
Fax: 416-979-4566

University of Western Ontario
Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry

Dental Sciences Building
London ON N6A 5C1 Canada
Phone: 519-661-3330
Fax: 519-661-3875

For a list of other Canadian schools with qualifying programs, visit the NDEB website. For a list of American schools with qualifying or advanced standing programs, visit the American Dental Association website.

You can obtain details about the NDEB Equivalency Process through the NDEB’s website. Or call 613-236-5912, email, or send mail to the NDEB at 80 Elgin Street, 2nd Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6R2 CANADA.

The Equivalency Process provides an alternate route to certification as a dentist in Canada for graduates of non-accredited dental programs. This process is also integrated with the admission process for the Qualifying and Degree Completion Programs. The Equivalency Process comprises three Assessments. Successful completion of the Assessments allows you to participate in the NDEB Written and OSCE Examinations. Canadian Faculties of Dentistry also use your results on select Assessments in the admission process for Qualifying and Degree Completion Programs.

Dentists’ offices tend to be open four to six days a week. Many dentists practise on their own but they make work in partnerships and associateships. Dentists also work in hospitals, as administrators, researchers and teachers, and for the military.

The diagram below illustrates the two but integrated pathways to certification as a dentist in Canada.

This diagram shows the pathways to certification as a dentist in Canada. Each step is described below.

Review Courses

Below are links to review and preparatory courses for the Equivalency Process offered by Canadian Faculties of Dentistry. The RCDSO does not endorse or sponsor any of these courses and offers this information simply to try and be of assistance. As the information is always changing you need to contact the schools directly for specific information regarding how to apply and fees.

Restorative Dentistry Review - Schulich School of Dentistry, Continuing Dental Education

Assessment of Clinical Skills and Assessment of Clinical Judgement Review - University of Toronto

Clinical Skills Enrichment Course (CSEC) for Foreign Trained Dentists - University of British Columbia

Clinical Skills Preparation - University of Manitoba

Once the certificate of the National Dental Examining Board has been granted, to obtain a General Certificate of Registration (the most common form of certificate used to engage in general practice) all applicants must:

  • have a degree in dentistry showing that you have successfully completed a course in dental studies of at least four years at a university-based dental school
  • passed the Canadian National Examination and obtained a certificate from the NDEB
  • be reasonably fluent in either English or French (evidence may be requested)
  • have successfully completed the College’s examination in Jurisprudence and Ethics
  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada or have received the appropriate authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Canada permitting you to engage in the practice of dentistry in Ontario
  • be mentally competent and physically able to safely practise dentistry
  • have sufficient knowledge, skill and judgement to competently engage in the practice of dentistry
  • have a clear record wherever you are or have been registered/licensed or otherwise entitled to practise dentistry in another jurisdiction and/or have engaged in the practice of dentistry anywhere in the world. You must not currently nor in the past have been:
    • found guilty in relation to a criminal offence
    • the subject of an investigation or proceeding for professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity or a similar investigation or proceeding
    • the subject of a finding of professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity or a similar finding

Note that documentation (original or notarized copies) will be requested for a number of these requirements. (See Step 3 on Certified Documents below.) To verify that you have a clear practice record, the College’s Certificate of Standing form (available on our website under “Forms”) must be completed by the Governing/Regulatory Authority in every jurisdiction where an applicant has practised or been granted the right to practice. If your governing authority refuses to complete this form, then you must submit a letter or other substitution containing the required information outlined above. Reference letters or photocopies of a licence will not be accepted in place of this official notice.

If you are still practicing in the respective jurisdiction at the time you submit your application for registration in Ontario, please note: this information/form must be current and is therefore only valid for three (3) months.

Requirements are subject to change. Please contact the College directly for the most up-to-date information or if you have any questions. The entire Registration Regulation can be found on the College’s website.

Application Process & Timelines

Standard processing time for a complete application (including all requested documentation/fees) is three weeks but may be longer depending on the time of year the application is received (e.g., May/June/December). However, we are not responsible for any delay attributed to outside organizations such as other regulatory bodies, schools or Canada Immigration. You must not book patients until your registration has been confirmed by the College. It is recommended that you apply with ample time for processing prior to your expected start date. Please note that your application is only valid for 3 months after being signed or witnessed.

The Registrar of the College must refer your application to the Registration Committee if he or she:

  • has doubts on reasonable grounds about whether you fulfill the registration requirements;
  • is of the opinion that terms, conditions or limitations should be imposed on the certificate and you do not consent to that;
  • proposes to refuse your application.

If the Registrar has to refer an application to the Registration Committee, the delay time for the application to be reviewed by the Committee depends on when the application was received by the College. The Committee meets approximately every two to three months. Please note: the Regulated Health Professions Act stipulates that you must be given 30 days to make submissions to the Committee.

If the Committee makes a decision on the day of the meeting, it will communicate its decision to the applicant within 1 week or less. However, the Committee may also determine that it requires further information before making a decision. The time required to obtain such additional information varies from case to case and with what has been requested. For example, additional information can entail writing to a foreign jurisdiction, waiting for a disciplinary hearing to conclude in another jurisdiction, obtaining an expert opinion, or arranging for a health assessment and report or for a clinical assessment, if competency is in question.

The Committee communicates its decision to you, the applicant, in writing. To learn more about how to appeal a Committee decision, you can review the information provided by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.

Before You Arrive in Canada

Step 1 - The first thing you must do is contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to determine whether you are eligible for migration to Canada. There are specific criteria for obtaining immigration status in Canada that is beyond the control of any regulatory body. Only CIC has the authority to determine what professions are “in need” at any given time.

Step 2 - As mentioned above under Registration Requirements, internationally trained candidates must complete a qualifying program or the NDEB Equivalency Process. We strongly advise you take advantage of the information and material available on the NDEB website – to try and assess your ability to meet the requirement. The site includes a self-assessment tool, links to review courses that may be available, insight and preparation into the Equivalency Process, reference texts, information on exam contents and sample questions, and much more. If you are eligible for the Equivalency Process then depending on your personal circumstances and financial situation you may be able to fly to Canada, take the applicable assessment and fly home. This would allow you to maintain a practice and source of income while attempting to meet the qualification assessments. It may also be possible to attempt the first assessment of the Equivalency Process, the “Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge”, before you arrive in Canada. Past tests have been administered in England, Asia and New Zealand but it varies year to year depending on location and number of applicants in a given area. Please contact the NDEB directly for current information. If it proves necessary for you to attend one of the two-year advanced standing programs then obviously those are full-time, classroom situations where you will have to be in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand or Ireland.

If you are at a point where migrating is a certainty, then you need to obtain a completed Certificate of Standing, as listed above, or letter of standing from everywhere you’ve practiced in the world. If you are reviewing this information from outside of Canada, we recommend you have our Certificate of Standing form, completed by the appropriate governing authority in your country of origin before immigrating to Canada.

Once you, the applicant, have met all the requirements, you may apply for registration from any location. Refer to the section on providing certified documents for a list of what you will need. All applications are treated in the same manner and must meet the requirements specified in this document.

If you are not fluent in English or French, it is a good idea to improve your English or French by taking language courses before arriving in Canada and to take a recognized language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. (see Language Proficiency Assessment below)

When You Arrive in Ontario

Given the nature of the requirements (e.g., assessment or two-year program), you will probably have already arrived in Ontario or another province of Canada. To begin your application to the College, follow these five steps.

Step 1 – Pass NDEB Examinations

As mentioned above, you must complete the National Dental Examining Board of Canada’s examinations before you apply to the College. To qualify for this examination you must have successfully completed an approved two-year advanced standing program or the NDEB Equivalency Process. The NDEB lists on its website recommended readings (see References) plus over 3000 questions from its examination bank (see Written Examination).

Step 2 – Complete the application form

You must submit a completed, signed and notarized College Application Form which will then be valid for three months. If you have not completed the registration process within that time, then you will be required to complete a new application form. The form is available on the College website.

Step 3 — Provide certified documents

The College requires a combination of original and certified documentation depending on the nature of the document. By legal definition, a certified copy is a copy of a document issued by a court, a government or a lawyer or notary public.

These are the steps to obtaining a certified document:

i)  You take the original document to the legal authority.

ii) The legal authority will

  • take a photocopy
  • either provide a covering affidavit or write on the document directly that the copy is a true, exact and unaltered copy of the original document
  • sign, stamp and date the photocopy

The College will not accept photocopies that are not certified. The College will not accept copies sworn by you, the applicant, to be true copies. It is the responsibility of the legal authority to perform the verification.

 Documents that need to be submitted include:
Documents Notes
a certified copy of your original dental degree  
an original letter from the graduating university confirming your graduation and date  
a certified copy of your final transcripts that includes confirmation of the dental degree being issued This can be submitted instead of a letter from the university (see above).
written confirmation from a Canadian, American, Australian, New Zealander or Irish university that you have successfully completed the two-year, qualifying or international dentist program Required if you attended a two-year qualifying program. Not required if you completed the NDEB Equivalency Process. In most cases you would have been issued a Dental Degree from the Institution and may submit that.
a certified copy of the certificate issued by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada  
a certified copy of the appropriate authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Canada permitting you to practise dentistry in Ontario This could be a Canadian citizenship card, permanent resident card or Work Permit.
a completed Certificate of Standing form You can find this form on the College website. It should be completed by the licensing or regulatory body in the jurisdiction in which you have practised as a dentist. In some countries, this is not a separate organization but a government body such as a Ministry of Health.

This form will provide evidence that you have not been found guilty in relation to a criminal offence, that you were not the subject of an investigation or proceeding for professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity or a similar investigation or proceeding and that you were not the subject of a finding of professional misconduct, incompetence, incapacity or a similar finding.

Note: that this is a major requirement that must be addressed in all cases. Please contact the Registration staff at the College if you have any questions.

This documentation is valid for three months from the date it is issued if you continued to practise in that jurisdiction afterwards. Alternatively, it must have been current and up to date when you left the jurisdiction in question.
a certified copy of a legal name change certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce certificate This is required only if you are applying for a licence under a name that is different from the one recorded on your dental degree.
a written summary of what you have done during any gaps in time between when you obtained your dental degree and when you applied to the College  

Some of this information is best obtained while you are still in your country of origin. If you now reside in Canada obtaining documentation may be a greater challenge. However, the vast majority of applicants are able to obtain the requested documentation. If for any reason you believe that the documentation is unobtainable then contact the Registration Department staff. They may be able to assist with contact information in your country of origin or provide guidance on alternative solutions.

Where indicated, you must submit certified copies of the original documents plus certified translations of those documents if they are not in English or French. It is your responsibility to arrange for the official translation. You cannot translate your own documents. Original translations must verify that the translation is accurate and authentic and will be accepted only from the following:

  • the consulate, high commission or embassy to Canada of the country that issued the documents
  • a Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission in the country from which you emigrated
  • a translator accredited by a professional association of translators in Canada. To obtain the name of an accredited translator, contact the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO) at 1-800-234-5030 or 613-241-2846, or
  • a translator who has received accreditation through a federal, provincial or municipal government in Canada

All acceptable translations must be accompanied by an original statement indicating

  • the translator’s number and/or seal, name, address and telephone number
  • that the translator belongs to one of the categories listed above
  • printed name and signature of the translator

Applicants are also welcome to bring original documentation to the College and we will photocopy it here and hand it directly back to you. Please call ahead and let us know if you are coming in order to ensure that a staff person is available. By law, all documentation that the College receives becomes the property of the College and will not be returned. Letters/certificates of standing are often "original" because the College prefers to receive them directly from the governing authority (though you might have obtained it before leaving your country). If for any reason you would like a copy of this document or any other in your file then let us know. We’re happy to provide that to you at no charge.

Step 3 — Pass NDEB Examinations

As mentioned above, you must complete the National Dental Examining Board examination before you apply to the College. The NDEB lists on its website recommended readings (see References) plus every examination question it has ever used (see Written Examination).

Step 4 — Complete Required College Courses

You must also successfully complete the College’s web-based course in Jurisprudence and Ethics. This course is available on the College website - without charge. Note: you must submit an application form to the College to be able to access the course. This form is also available on our website.

Step 5—Demonstrate Language Proficiency Assessment

You should be reasonably fluent in either English or French. Many dental programs throughout the world are taught in English so you may or may not be required to submit evidence of fluency.

When it is necessary, the College currently accepts TOEFL – minimum scores of 600 PBT, 250 CBT or 100 ITB. For IELTS – a minimum band of 6.5 for the General test.

NOTE: Completion of the TOEFL or IELTS – “Academic” version will not be accepted.

Labour Market Information

It must be stressed that as a Regulator we process applications based on whether the applicant has met the legislated requirements for registration and not on whether Ontario needs dentists or not. Unlike in some countries, dentistry is not funded by the government but is an independent, privately run business. The average income for a dentist according to a year 2000 poll was approximately $132,000 (Canadian).

There are currently over 9,300 dentists in Ontario. Employment opportunities are affected by several factors that influence the demand for dental services: population growth, improvements in oral hygiene that allow elderly people to keep their teeth longer, and public awareness of the importance of dental health. In addition, as the baby boom ages, a large number of the population will need maintenance on complicated dental work. The nature of dentistry is also changing with a greater emphasis on cosmetic procedures. Dentists too were part of the “baby boom” phenomena which projects increased retirement numbers over the next few years at the same time there is increasing numbers of internationally trained immigrating to Canada. Accordingly, some predict overall growth for the profession while others feel there is already an oversaturation, particularly in the major urban centers such as Toronto.

A 2004 survey estimated that 58% of the profession in Ontario practised in the City of Toronto. Toronto, therefore, is a highly competitive market and applicants should consider practicing in areas outside of this concentrated area. Membership in the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario is not a guarantee of employment. The College does not provide employment services and there is no central job placement service for dentists in Ontario.

For more information on labour market conditions see:

This information is also available at public libraries or Employment Resource Centres in your community.

 Annual membership fee* is pro-rated for first time applicants as follows:

Fees and Costs

(in Canadian Dollars)
January 1 to May 31 $2,160
June 1 to August 31 $1,080
September 1 to December 31 $650
Plus the Application fee $250
Plus the Registration fee $100

Membership is based on a calendar year (January to December).
You must be renew every year by December 15 for the following year.

 Other costs:

Fees and Costs

(in Canadian Dollars)
Jurisprudence and Ethics Course $0
Qualifying / Advanced Standing / International Dentist Program Costs
Tuition and associated expenses for two years from $90,000 to $140,000
National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) Equivalency Process
Fees are charged per stage and subject to change at any time Total - approximately $8,750

Note that other costs may be incurred including taxes, instruments, materials, text books and so on. Contact the NDEB for details.
NDEB National Examining post Equivalency Process
Written Examination and OSCE (fees subject to change at any time) approximately $2,300

These are 2015 figures and are subject to change.

* Note: It’s important to be aware that in Ontario your membership fee includes your malpractice/professional liability insurance. We are the only dental licensing body in North America to offer this service. Purchasing private insurance can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 depending on the province or state, so this is exceptional value.

For More Information

For more information on application requirements in Ontario, contact:

Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario
6 Crescent Road
Toronto ON M4W 1T1
Telephone: 416-961-6555
Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-565-4591
Fax: 416-961-5814

For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario, visit or contact:

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Toronto ON M4R 1A3
Telephone: 416-322-4950
Fax: 416-322-8084

For information about regulated non-health professions, trades and other occupations in Ontario:

Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario

Telephone: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866-388-2262
Fax: 416-327-9711

For additional counselling and support to assist in finding the most effective path to professional practice or alternative professional avenues in Ontario, contact:

Access Centre for Internationally
Educated Professionals

163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto ON M5A 1S1
Telephone 416-862-2200 or 1-800-596-4046
TTY: 416-862-4817
Fax: 416-862-4818

Accredited dental programs in Australia

For graduates of a dental program approved by the Australian Dental Council who have graduated on or after March 31, 2010. For a list of accredited dental programs in Australia, please contact:

Australian Dental Council
Ground Floor, 120 Jolimont Road
East Melbourne Vic 3002
ABN 70 072 269 900
Telephone: + 61 3 9657 1777
Fax: + 61 3 9657 1766

Accredited dental programs in New Zealand

For graduates who have graduated on or after December 14, 2011 from a dental program approved through accreditation by the New Zealand Dental Council. For a list of accredited dental programs in New Zealand, please contact:

New Zealand Dental Council
Level 5, 138 The Terrace
PO Box 10-448
Wellington, NZ 6143
Telephone +64-4-4994820
Fax: + 64-4-4991668

Accredited dental programs in Ireland

For graduates who have graduated on or after December 5, 2012 from a dental program approved through accreditation by the Irish Dental Council. For a list of accredited dental programs in Ireland, please contact:

Irish Dental Council
57 Merrion Square Dublin 2
Dublin Ireland
Telephone: (00353) 1 6762069
Fax: (00353) 1 6762069


The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario offices and switchboard are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday. It is closed on statutory holidays.

In person:

The College’s offices are located in downtown Toronto, opposite the Rosedale subway station at 6 Crescent Road, Toronto. The office is extraordinarily busy so please phone ahead and make an appointment before coming to the College.

Copyright in this Career Map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, © 2016.