Continuing Education

Dentists are required to renew their licenses every two years, beginning April 1 of each odd-numbered year. In that two-year period, dentists must obtain 30 credit hours of continuing dental education.

To help members meet their CE requirements, PDA and its districts and local societies sponsor educational events throughout the state. PDA regularly offers courses in DuBois, Danville, Greensburg, Philadelphia, Shippensburg and Wellsboro. Our online calendar includes a list of CE courses across the state. You can sort all events by type, or search by keyword such as topic or location.

In June of each licensure renewal year, PDA distributes a CE tracking folder to all active PDA member dentists. This folder helps members track the CE credits they have earned toward relicensure.

Stay on track and stay compliant with Pennsylvania laws and regulations:


Relicensure Requirements

A maximum of 50 percent of the required credit hours may be taken through individual study or by serving as an instructor or author of a book, article or CE program. Instructors are awarded two additional credit hours as preparation time for each credit hour of instruction and for actual instruction. Authors are given 50 percent of the required hours by being published in a peer-reviewed professional journal.

The remaining credit hours must be earned through attendance at lectures, clinical programs or live webcasts that allow attendees to communicate with the presenter and the other attendees. However, up to 100 percent of the requirement may be earned in this manner. PDA, its district and local societies and Pennsylvania's dental schools offer a variety of CE courses throughout the year to help dentists meet their relicensure requirements.

Under Act 31 of 2014, dentists, hygienists and EFDAs must complete 2 hours of approved continuing education in child abuse recognition and reporting from an approved program provider in the two-year period preceding licensure renewal. The 2 hours of child abuse recognition and reporting will count toward the total hours required to renew a dental license. A licensee will not be permitted to renew their license until electronic verification is received from the approved course provider and processed by the Department of State/State Board of Dentistry (SBOD). Processing can take up to 14 days from the date you take the child abuse recognition and reporting CE course. PDA is an approved course provider. 

Act 124 of 2016 requires dentists, who have a current DEA registration or use another DEA number (as permitted by law) to prescribe controlled substances, to complete at least two hours of CE in pain management, identification of addiction or the practice of prescribing or dispensing opioids as a portion of the total CE required for biennial renewal.

PDA has obtained clarification from the Department of State's Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) about exemptions in Act 124 for health care providers who do not prescribe controlled substances. BPOA confirmed that there are two exemptions:

  • Licensees who are exempt from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) requirements for a registration number.
  • Licensees who do not use the registration number of another person or entity, as permitted by law, to prescribe controlled substances in any manner.

The continuing education (CE) requirement does apply to all licensees who have a current DEA registration or use another DEA number (as permitted by law) to prescribe controlled substances.

A list of courses offered to fulfill the CE requirements of Act 31 and Act 124 is available here.

In addition to the required number of credit hours, licensees must obtain current certification in infant, child and adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). PDA suggests the American Heart Association’s “Healthcare Provider” course or a course offering a certification card that states “Infant, Child and Adult CPR." The CPR requirement is a separate requirement for relicensure and is NOT an acceptable CE subject area.

Acceptable Subject Areas

CE credit hours must be completed in subject areas directly related to the maintenance of the clinical competence of a dentist, dental hygienist or expanded function dental assistant (EFDA). Some examples follow:

  • Clinical and technological subjects
  • Emergency procedures other than CPR  certification
  • Diagnosis and treatment of oral pathosis
  • Infection control
  • Abuse and neglect
  • Medical and scientific subjects
  • Laws and regulations pertaining to dentists, dental hygienists and EFDAs

Credit hours will not be awarded in non-clinical subjects, including the following:

  • Practice building
  • Billing
  • Office management
  • Communication skills*
  • Insurance reimbursement

*A dental hygienist may complete no more than three of the required 20 hours of continuing education in courses relating to communication skills.

For more information on PDA's CE program, contact Rebecca Von Nieda, director of meetings and administration, at (717) 234-5941, ext. 117.


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