Licensure and Certification Requirements for Dental Staff

The Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry (SBOD) sets standard requirements for individuals wishing to obtain or renew a license or certificate to practice in the dental profession. The requirements include standards for education, examination, biennial renewal and continuing education.

Education and Examination

Dental Hygienists
Candidates for licensure as a dental hygienist must:

  • Submit certification of graduation from a dental hygiene school accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the American Dental Association (ADA).
  • Pass the written National Board Dental Hygiene Examination and the clinical North East Regional Board (NERB) Dental Hygiene Examination.

Please refer to the PA Code for more education and examination regulations.

Expanded Function Dental Assistants
Candidates for certification as expanded function dental assistants (EFDAs) must submit verification for one of the following:

  • Graduation with an Associate Degree from an EFDA program at a two-year college or institution that is accredited by an accrediting agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.
  • Graduation from a dental hygiene school accredited by the ADA Commission on Accreditation, at which a minimum of 75 hours of clinical and didactic instruction in restorative functions were completed.
  • Completion of an EFDA certification program, including at least 200 hours of clinical and didactic instruction, from a program accredited by the ADA Commission on Dental Accreditation or an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.

Candidates also must pass an examination containing both written and clinical components acceptable to the SBOD. Please refer to the PA Code for more education and examination regulations.

Dental Assistants
The SBOD does not set any requirements or standards regarding the education or examination of dental assistants; however, radiological certification is necessary. 

License and Certificate Renewal

Licenses and certificates are renewable biennially beginning April 1 of every odd-numbered year, for a fee charged by the SBOD. Dental hygienists and EFDAs who fail to renew their licenses and certificates are prohibited from practicing their profession in Pennsylvania. For more information on license and certificate renewal, please refer to section 33.105 of the PA Code.

Online Licensing
Dental professionals can apply for and renew licenses and certificates online through the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

Continuing Education Requirements

The following CE requirements must be met to be eligible for license or certificate renewal:

  • Dental hygienists – 20 hours
  • EFDAs – 10 hours
  • Dental Assistants – no required CE

At least 50 percent of the required credit hours must be taken in lecture or clinical presentation, and a maximum of 50 percent of the required credit hours may be taken through individual study. CE subject areas must be approved by the SBOD.  For a full list of subject areas please refer to section 33.402 of the PA Code. For specific details regarding continuing education requirements for dental hygienists and EFDAs, please refer to section 33.401 of the PA Code.

Related Links

Pennsylvania State Board of Dentistry
The Pennsylvania Code – Chapter 33 State Board of Dentistry
National Board Dental Hygiene Exam Information
North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners