The Ultimate INBDE Guide for Foreign-Trained Dentists

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Reviewed by
Dr. Joel Meyerson
Key Takeaway
Table of Contents

    What is the INBDE?

    The Integrated National Board Dental Examination, or the INBDE, is a written exam required for dental licensure in the United States. This exam is administered by the Joint Commission on National Dental Examination, or the JCNDE. 

    During the two-day exam, the INBDE tests the biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences of dentistry. The exam combines what you learn during dental school classes with the clinical skills you learn throughout patient care. 

    The INBDE assesses the “just qualified dentist”, meaning it tests the expectations for safe and effective dental care. 

    The INBDE is required for foreign-trained dental students and foreign-trained dentists who wish to practice dentistry in the United States. Through this guide, we’ll talk through the information you need to pass the INBDE as a foreign-trained dentist or dental student!

    For more information on the history of the exam, in addition to specific INBDE scoring, format, and content, please refer to the Bootcamp series on Passing the INBDE

    Eligibility Requirements 

    Eligibility requirements to take the INDBE are based on the standards set by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, or CODA. CODA is an organization that evaluates dental education programs. CODA-accredited programs are usually from the United States and Canada. 

    Non-CODA-accredited programs are typically from everywhere else in the world. For instance, if you attend Istanbul University in Turkey, your dental school is non-CODA-accredited. 

    Any student or graduate of a CODA-accredited program is eligible to take the INBDE. If you have attended a non-CODA-accredited program, additional forms are required to apply to take the INBDE.

    If you are a current dental student attending a non-CODA-accredited program, you are required to submit the following additional forms: 

    1. Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) report
    2. Certification of Eligibility form

    If you are a current dentist and you have graduated from a non-CODA-accredited program, you are required to submit the following form:

    1. Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) report

    Let’s discuss what each of these forms are. 

    Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) report

    Educational Credential Evaluators Inc., or the ECE, is an organization that confirms your dental degree from non-CODA-accredited programs. The ECE creates a report on your dental program, which allows you to take the INBDE. 

    Before applying for an ECE report, a DENTPIN® is required. The ADA has a webpage to retrieve your DENTPIN®. If you do not already have a DENTPIN®, you can create one here. When applying for the ECE report, it is important to use the same name as the name on your DENTPIN®

    Now that you have your DENTPIN®, navigate to the JCNDE page on the ECE website and select “start your application now.” Create an account and submit documentation depending on the country you are located in. 

    ECE Website for Starting Application

    Alternatively, you can navigate to the ECE website and select “order a report.”

    ECE Website to Order Report

    The ECE has suggestions for which report to order based on what you are applying for. Remember that the ECE report is required to take the INBDE, whether you are a foreign-trained dental student or foreign-trained dentist.

    Take a look at which ECE report to order based on your situation:

    Suggested Report Types

    For example, if you are a foreign-trained dentist applying to take the INBDE and applying for a residency program in the United States, you may order the ECE U.S. Course by Course Report. After submitting your application, you can expect to hear back within one to three weeks.  

    Certification of Eligibility form

    The Certification of Eligibility form is also required for current dental students

    The Certification of Eligibility form should be sent by your dental program. This form must include the university seal and a signature from the dean or registrar. The DENTPIN® is also required for this form. 

    The form must be physically mailed to the JCNDE, which is detailed in the linked PDF. Please note that the Certification of Eligibility form is different from the ECE report.

    Application Process

    Once you have collected the appropriate forms, you are ready to apply for the INBDE! Let’s talk about the application process. 

    1. Submit an application to take the INBDE

    Once your forms are approved, you can now apply to take the INBDE. You will first submit an application to the JCNDE. In the application, you will pay the examination fee. Make sure to have your DENTPIN® available when you are completing the application. 

    INBDE Pro-Tip: Once your application is approved, you have six months to take the INBDE. Don’t apply for the exam until you are certain you know when you want to take it. 

    2. Receive your eligibility ID

    Once you’re able to schedule your exam, you’ll receive an email from the JCNDE with your eligibility information. You’ll receive a unique Eligibility ID (the same number as your DENTPIN®), which is required to schedule your exam. 

    3. Schedule your exam through Prometric

    Next, you can schedule your exam through Prometric, the official test taking center for the INBDE. The INBDE can be taken at Prometric test centers in the U.S. and Canada. To schedule your exam, visit Prometric’s website and enter the ADA as the sponsor. Here’s a shortcut to the page. Select “Schedule” from the left hand side of the screen.

    ADA W

    You’ll be redirected to select the location you want to take the test in, then enter your Eligibility ID, select a testing center, and choose your exam dates! 

    INBDE Pro-Tip: Although the exam is two days long, you do not have to take the two days consecutively. After day one of the exam, you have up to one week to take the second day. Some candidates choose to take the two days consecutively, while others choose to have a few rest days between the two exam dates. 

    Additional Fees

    There are fees associated with the ECE report. Please navigate to the JCNDE page on the ECE website for the most up-to-date fees associated, which will vary based on the specific type of report you order. 

    There is a fee associated with the INBDE, which is paid at the time of the application. Additionally, there is a processing fee for international candidates. Please navigate to the INBDE Candidate Guide, found with the application, for the most up-to-date exam and processing fees. 

    Overcoming Challenges

    Applying for dental licensure in the United States is stressful, and we understand there are challenges that foreign-trained dental students and dentists can face along the way! INBDE Bootcamp is here to help you conquer those battles and pass the INBDE. 

    1. Diverse dental background

    Training in dentistry differs from country to country, and the INBDE tests you on the biomedical, clinical, and behavioral sciences of dentistry based on U.S. dental programs. This can make the INBDE seem daunting for candidates with a diverse dental background!

    To help you refresh on the need-to-know INBDE material, INBDE Bootcamp has a comprehensive database of Mental Dental videos and quizzes, in addition to a high-yield question bank that mimics the exact questions you’ll see on the INBDE. 

    2. Productivity

    We understand it can be difficult to find time to study for such a high-stakes exam. Whether you are a full-time dental student or full-time dentist, if you are raising a family, or going through major life events - you are a busy person! 

    To help keep you on track, Ari from INBDE Bootcamp has a 45-day study schedule to help you pass the INBDE on your first attempt. Use this guide as a starting point, and adjust to meet the needs of your busy schedule.  

    3. English as a second language

    Finally, it can be challenging to take the INBDE if English is your second language. Dental schools and residency programs require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), for which there are many resources available online. 

    Success with Bootcamp

    With INBDE Bootcamp, you’ll have access to Bootcamp’s comprehensive, high-yield question bank and practice exam. 

    INBDE Bootcamp has thousands of high-yield questions to practice and learn from. The team at Bootcamp updates content daily, cycling in the most high-yield questions currently being tested. INBDE Bootcamp has everything you need and nothing you don’t to help you pass the INBDE. 

    What is the best way to start studying for the INBDE?

    1. Start early 

    There is a lot of material on the INBDE. We all study in different ways and at different paces. You may be a full time dentist or dental student, in which case you are very busy throughout the day! No matter what, it is important to give yourself enough time to study.

    2. Stick to a study schedule

    Ari from INBDE Bootcamp has helped get us started by creating a 45-day study schedule to pass the INBDE on your first attempt. 

    Ari’s schedule recommends completing each INBDE Bootcamp question bank and supplementing topics you’re less confident with using Dr. Ryan’s Mental Dental videos. INBDE Bootcamp integrates Dr. Ryan’s most high-yield Mental Dental videos into each subject area, with additional Mental Dental “bites” to help test and master Dr. Ryan’s content. 

    Ari’s recommendations:

    • Follow a study schedule and stick to it! Adjust it as needed based on what you feel you need to study the most. 
    • Take regular breaks. Study for 45 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. Take one day off a week to give yourself time to relax. 
    • Give yourself enough time. It is better to start early and have more time than not enough. 

    3. Create good habits

    Now that you have a study plan and schedule, sticking to good habits will lead to success. Ari’s schedule builds in one rest day per week, but if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, take time to refresh and evaluate your situation. 

    Don’t forget to:

    • Take enough breaks
    • Get enough sleep
    • Have a good support system
    • Eat healthy and drink plenty of water
    • Exercise and move your body daily 

    Success Stories

    Studying with INBDE Bootcamp guarantees that you’ll pass the INBDE on your first attempt! 

    Take a look at some success stories from international dentists, who passed the INBDE with INBDE Bootcamp:

    After the Exam

    Congratulations on passing the INBDE! Passing this exam is a major step toward licensure. What are the next steps to becoming licensed in the United States?

    1. Advanced Standing programs

    As a foreign-trained dentist, one pathway to dental licensure is by obtaining a DDS or DMD degree from a CODA-accredited Advanced Standing program in the United States. An Advanced Standing program is a 2-3 year program that awards graduates with a CODA-accredited DMD or DDS degree. If you are interested, you may apply through the ADEA Centralized Application for Advanced Placement for International Dentists (CAAPID). Visit the ADEA CAAPID directory for more information. 

    2. Residency programs

    Not every state requires you to complete an Advanced Standing program. Some states allow foreign-trained dentists to obtain licensure by completing a CODA-accredited residency program, such as an Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD) program or a specialty training program, like Prosthodontics or Endodontics. If you are interested, you may apply through the ADEA Postdoctoral Application Support Service. 

    3. Other pathways to licensure

    In addition to completing an Advanced Standing program or residency program, many states have additional licensure requirements. For example, some states require you to work at a Federally Qualified Health Center or work as a faculty member at a dental school. Once you know where you are interested in working, reach out to that state’s dental association for specific licensure requirements and pathways. 

    4. Clinical performance exam

    Most states also require a clinical performance examination for licensure. Visit the ADA’s dental licensure map to determine state dental licensure requirements, or visit the state official websites for more information. 

    5. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

    Many of these programs require the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). There are many online resources available to help you ace this test!

    Important Links

    1. INBDE application
    2. Create a DENTPIN
    3. ECE Report information
    4. Certification of Eligibility form

    Good luck! Once you’re ready to start preparing for the INBDE with Bootcamp, sign up here. And if you have any questions just send us a message!

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    Hannah Brein, DAT Bootcamp Student