Getting NDEB NBDE Licensure by Dr. Kanwar Singh

Making this to make your life a tad streamlined when coming through to Canada / US. Some of the stuff, I wish I’d known then. There is more detail for the Canadian setup compared to the US as that was my primary field.

Things to do to get NDEB NBDE Licensure when still in your university/country.

1. Submit your application to WES.

Start your evaluations. Get all the credits from your university when you can do it yourself easily. Get ICAP! Ensure you get ICAP. Just in case you ever need your documents again you don’t have to get it from your university.

2. Submit your forms to NDEB / NBDE if possible.
3. Get reference letters.

As many as you can. All sealed and signed. But keep ONE copy unsealed. For yourself. Just if you need an extra copy later, send a copy of that back and have them redo it and send it through. You’ll always have the ideal ones in that case. Otherwise, your school might forget what they wrote when you asked for it the first time.

Canada NDEB Licensure

Things to do to get NDEB NBDE Licensure when you get to USA/Canada.

1. NBDE Part 1 – 2

i. My honest opinion, IF you have time (say you have a year before the AFK), do your Part 1 at least and possibly Part 2, BEFORE AFK. You’ll have a better foundation. All ASDA, Mosby, First Aid. Facebook groups full of it.
ii. Do both. Better your chances.
iii. Get work/shadow experience. That counts a lot.
iv. Get your applications in as early as possible. Get them at the top of the pile.
v. Prepare for your bench test. US Bench tests are far easier than Canadian Bench Exams. But still practice. Find a center if possible.
vi. Interview courses if needed. Practice.

2. (AFK) Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (Minimum 75% needed to pass. (1st Week Feb)

3. Keep 85%+ as a goal to be “safely” considered in almost all universities across Canada.

Under that, you’ll be lucky / have a great resume / possibly MDS / minority. People have got in with 70% in the University of Manitoba which is the only one that accepts candidates under 75%. I believe 65 is their cutoff.

4. What to study for AFK? This was my setup.

i. Past released NDEB Questions, 2011-2014. Check the Facebook groups, the questions have been asked, asked again, answered many many times.
ii. ASDA (I, J, K, L, M, N)
iii. Mosby Part 1 (Mostly the last chapter with the DA), Part 2 All.
iv. First Aid Q/A for NBDE, Part 2 All, Part 1 (last chapter)
v. Tufts Pharmac
vi. 5-6 Reviews / Revisions each before your exam.

5. Can you study yourself or do you NEED a class?

a. You do not NEED a class. Every answer with explanations is available online. I mean literally every answer. Alright maybe 99%, but that last 1% would be such that you won’t have a proper one till the end if that.
b. If you study better in a class, take a class. There are tons of options. Look for the instructors, who they are, what the results are like, and most importantly, find people who’ve taken that class and get their opinion. That’s the best. It’s good as most class room setups have the questions organized topic by topic.
Making your life just a bit easier. You still have 80% of the work to do. Read up BEFORE you get to the class.
c. I do better without classes, plan my schedule, setup my day, have my Bialetti expresso maker on hand and post tons of notes around me.

6. Order your magnification loupes (2.5 or 3) while studying for AFK,

they take 4-8 weeks to come through. I’ve used Univet, love them. Order them with the headlamps! And make SURE you get an extra battery pack! Do NOT wait till you have to start your Skills prep to get them. It will be too late to get used to them. When you do get them and start wearing them, they WILL be uncomfortable. It’s alright. DO NOT take them off. Leave them on. Few days. And honestly, do not use pre-made eBay loupes … get proper ones.

7. Get full information/research into programs you will need for your Clinical Skills

(be it for your bench exams or Assessment of Clinical Skills for Direct Licensing). If possible, get your seat booked to start immediately after your AFK. You might “want” to wait till you get your results, but honestly you don’t have enough time after to get used to the system plus get those perfect preps you need and study for ACJ. Do it right away. Do NOT lose the 7 weeks after AFK to start.

8. You’ve cleared AFK!! Give yourself pat on the back.

The easy part is done. Now you have two options,

a. Direct Licensing or
b. Going through University. Getting your DDS.

This is one of the most difficult questions once you’re back in Canada. Should you go through direct licensing or should you go through the two years into university get your DDS?

This is one of the most difficult questions once you’re back in Canada. Should you go through direct licensing or should you go through the two years into university get your DDS? I’m going to try and bring the options to light.

Direct Licensing

Thoughts that cross our minds:

    1. Always 1st Option
    2. Why go through the process of DDS, waste two more years of life.
    3. Getting into DDS is so difficult and pointless. I already know it all. Rest I’ll learn on the job.
    4. Why it is or isn’t the right choice?
    5. Who should go for Direct Licensing?

Of course, it’s the first option.  We’ll think, why bother, I’ve already done my 4 years of intensive training plus a full year of rotational internship, I’m ready for Canada. or I’ve got years and years of practice under my belt, the Canadian exam will be easy to crack. I’ll be done in no time flat.

  • First things first…the four years of intensive training… don’t mean much. The level of precision needed for NDEB is eons ahead of what most of us have achieved when there. The patient practice management again is very different. I’ve done my BDS from one of the foremost institutions in the country, was pretty high up there in the clinical rankings, but as per the NDEB / Canadian Standards…it wasn’t enough. Not by a long shot.
  • For individuals with tons of clinical experience. Yes, you might have an easier time, especially with the judgment part. Yes, you have a better understanding of how to sit/position yourself. But it still requires a good amount of practice. That precision again (I’m using that word a lot, but once you start you’ll realize why). The only ones in luck here are either the Operative / Endodontists’ or the Prosthodontists. They’ll have it “slightly or a little more”   Rest of the MDS group..sorry, you’re pretty much in the BDS level again.
  • The patient work, record keeping, ethics are so very different that you’ll have to be at the absolute top of your game to learn. Esp if you are a new graduate.

PROS and CONS of Direct Licensing

  1. The Pros:
    1. Do your OSCE and you’re to start practicing pretty much by the end of the year.
    2. No school to go back to. Implies, no teachers, no assignments. Nothing.
    3. Start making money rather than taking a 200’000 $ + Loan.
    4. Repay any loans you might have.
  1. The Cons:
    1. You’re an NDEB 20XX. That’s the only title you’ll ever have here. That’s what you’ll have to say when publicizing work. It will never have the same level of distinction as DDS.
    2. You’ll be far less valuable as an employee especially in the beginning. DDS always favored. Possibly a few years’ time you’ll be regarded at the same. But still.
    3. You won’t have patient experience in Canada and you’ll be thrown into it. Some will be forgiving, some not so much.
    4. Higher studies. It is possible to get into a specialty program without DDS, but the last and only guy I know, had perfect GPA from India, MDS, 94 or something (highest in the country at that time, AFK), cleared ACS, ACJ, OSCE first attempt. So yea. There is a slight possibility. But it’s bloody slim.
    5. Lastly connections. You’ll be starting pretty much afresh. You won’t have any real ones yet.

Completing ACS (Assessment of Clinical Skills)

12 Exercises. PFM, FMC, CL2 Prep and Rest (Amalgam and Composite), Cl4 Composite Restoration, Infection Control, Rubber Dam, Record Keeping, Endo on Molars, Cl3 Preparation, Temporary (Provincial) Restoration.

  1. Practice like you life depends on it. It does.
  2. Find a good center. Check reviews. You need one. Someone to evaluate and critique every step.
  3. Keep about 10-14 hours a day for clinical practice. I’m not exaggerating.
  4. Be prepared to spend $7000- $10’000 on equipment/teeth.
  5. Buy teeth well in advance (during AFK if you can!). Those little things are gold at the end, and not available anywhere. If you have to make a compromise, get 3 weeks supply of special teeth for sure! For the last month of practice.
  6. Get good hand instruments and use ONLY Brasseler Burs if you can. More expensive yes, but the only ones that are made properly with the right angulation and measurements. I stick with HuFriedy Instruments 90% of the time. Anything cutting/measuring, get HuFriedy only.
  7. I highly highly suggest getting an awesome handpiece. J Morita Ultra E Fiber optic with Coupler is my 100% recommendation. Yes, it’s $1200. Yes, it’s worth every penny. Yes, you, your not tired hands, and super fast accurate preps will thank me.
  8. Each exercise is one grade. Each grade counts. 8A+ 4D or 9A+2D+1E is needed to pass.
  9. Do tons of mock exams.

Completing ACJ  (Assessment of Clinical Judgement)

    1. You should really join the center. Study in groups if you can, esp Radio.
    2. Get reviews.
    3. Mock Exams
    4. Radiology is a major
    5. Basic AFK (Antibiotics, NSAIDS, LA, Emergencies)
    6. Review Review.

Completing OSCE

    1. Take a class. You’ll have to revise AFK as well.
    2. Get material from all sources. You’ll study better in a group.

Congrats you’re now licensed in Canada to Practice! Celebrate!

Finally, DDS. Doctorate of Dental Surgery.

You know you want that title! Be it U.S. or Canada. It holds a lot of value. A LOT.

The Pros:

  1. True US / Canadian Patient Experience. This is THE only way to get it, while still being insured under the school. Honestly, you want this. It’s good to have a safety shield while starting out.
  2. Tons of connections that you’ll make, while in school. These things help. You can meet the literal founding members of the dental field. The chance to learn from them is immense.
  3. Higher studies. Specialty programs. You have a better chance now.
  4. Mostly for the newer graduates but for some with a lot of experience as well. You’ll learn so much, so many new procedures, tips, techniques that you might never have practiced or learned.
  5. They make sure you get it perfect. Shillingberg and Sturdevant will ask you for samples.
  6. Far more valuable as an employee.
  7. Most $$ as well. Loans paid back not too late. Few years. Spend sparingly for a bit.

The Cons:

  1. Obvious ones. 2 more years of School. Assignments, classes, lectures, theory, professors.
  2. Easily $200’000 plus to $300’000 at times.

Getting through Canadian Bench Tests;

  1. PLA Bench Exam for the University of Western Ontario makes the Canadian NDEB Clinical Skills Assessment look like it was meant for kids. Work needs to be precise, perfect and pretty. Honors category all the way (or A+ in the NDEB), or it’s not really worth their time. Competition is fierce.
  2. Others will make you do their own versions of the NDEB ACS. Not as difficult as the ACS or stressful but still quite.
  3. Get a center to practice at. You need proper guidance and instructions.
  4. Practice for the interview! Some Universities likes Toronto only have the interview (for now). Practice. Take a course if needed. It does help.

Finally: Who Should go for Direct:

  1. Anyone with a good amount of experience practicing on patients.
  2. Family issues that would prevent them from attending school.
  3. Financial constraints.
  4. Who truly doesn’t feel up to going back to school for 2 more years or don’t feel it would benefit them.

Who should go for DDS?

    1. Everyone if possible. It’s better in the long run.

It’s annoying, it’s stressful. It seems to never end. But when it does end finally, the feeling is amazing and all seems worth it. Good Luck. Hope I helped a bit.


  1. hello dear colleague ..
    thank you for the excellent clarifications and helpful tips
    I am general dentist (Phd ) from Tunisia with 12 years of experience , i would like to move to Toronto (since i have friends there ) and obtain a license to work there ..i am the proesident of an dental association and Humanitarian ngo and i am enrolled in a Unisversity degree in special health care for disabled individuals , does any of this help me in my path ? and should i consider another state if it is too expensive to follow the hard steps ?
    Thanks in advance

  2. I am indian dentist, I have taken NBDE 1 and 2 in USA but now i have to move to Canada , do I have to take NDEB EXAM OR NBDE will work?

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