Careers in Canada

A Foreign Dentist’s Guide on Becoming Licensed in Ontario, Canada

Aspiring professionals must get certification from the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). Immigrants who graduated from a dental program are called international applicants - and there are two types.
A male dentist holding a book and his eyeglasses. A text at the bottom shows Foreign Trained Dentist.

Are you looking for a country that welcomes a thriving profession in the field of dentistry? If you are a professional dental practitioner and considering to become licensed in Ontario, Canada, here are some useful information to get you qualified.

Canada has been known for its influx of foreign nationals. They are looking for opportunities to advance their career and look for an ideal place to live a comfortable life with their loved ones.

If you wish to hone your skills further, and ensure a promising life-long dental practice, look into the ever-growing demand for dentists in Canada. You may be surprised to know how much professional dentists get paid with benefits in the publicly funded healthcare and excellent educational opportunities.

What to Expect in Canada

Canada is renowned for its extensive, dynamic, and well-organized system in its immigration program. The number of applications for immigrants has increased over the years and still on the rise. 

On Way of Life

  • You may need to prepare some proper attire for each season as extreme weather conditions sets in from -40C in winter to 40Cin summer.
  • Expect costly expenses from housing, dining out to shopping spree.
  • Meet people with diverse cultural heritage.
  • Giving tips is appreciated, say, in restaurants and service-oriented entities.
  • Work in service-type jobs prior to your professional career.
  • Reserve your international health insurance because health care benefits take some time to kick in.
  • You may have to check your international driver’s license if it jives with your intended home province’s license equivalency requirements.

On Immigration

  • Understand fully the international qualification requirements and processes involved in relation to your own credentials
  • Know the labor market and workplace culture of the intended province or territory.


Canada made use of “point system,” the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) called the Canada’s Express Entry. It is the basis of its immigration admissions to rank and select individuals with the following set of pointers:

  • Age
  • Educational attainment
  • Canadian work experience
  • Valid job offer
  • Language competency
  • Skills
  • Flexibility
  • Support system (relatives staying in Canada)

Legible candidates with the top rank accumulated points will be called for an invitation to apply for permanent residency. The draw is done once in two weeks.

Need to boost your CRS score? You can check it on their Comprehensive Ranking System.  

Work Benefits

The prospect of getting a good salary in Canada is high, and for dentists, it varies from CAD120,000 – 240,000 annually. If you opt to work in a private dental clinic, you may expect a salary of $90 an hour.

Employee benefits range from health and dental insurance, group life insurance, training expenses, vehicle allowances, gifts, and awards.

How to get certification for foreign educated dentists in Ontario, Canada

Aspiring professionals must get certification from the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). Immigrants who graduated from a dental program are called international applicants. And there are two types:

International applicants with accredited education and training

These are applicants who had dental training in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland. They can apply directly for NDEB dental examination. 

International applicants with non-accredited education and training

If you completed a dental program from countries other than the mentioned above, then you may take one of the two pathways to get a chance in taking the NDEB dental examination.

Pathways to certification for international applicants with non-accredited dental education and training

  1. Successful completion of an accredited Qualifying/Degree Completion Program
  2. Successful completion of the NDEB Equivalency Process

What is a qualifying or degree program?

These are programs offered by Faculties of Dentistry in Canada and are intended for internationally trained dentists to become eligible in taking the NDEB dental examination.

The length of the program depends on the university. For example, at McGill University, it will take 2.5 years to get the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. On the other hand, it is a three-year program in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

What is the NDEB Equivalency process?

Pathway to NDEB Certification for Foreign Dentists in Ontario, Canada. Illustration.
Image source: NDEB

If you take the equivalency process, you will need to undergo three assessments before becoming an eligible applicant for the dental examination. 

The first step of NDEB Equivalency Process

The first step for you to do is to send an application to the NDEB Equivalency Process.

They also have a self-assessment tool that you can use to gauge your ability to pass the Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge. 

First Assessment: Fundamental Knowledge

You need to take an electronic exam in Canada for this assessment. The exam has 300 multiple-choice types of questions that you need to complete answering within 6 hours – plus a scheduled 30-minute break!

Second Assessment: Clinical Judgment

This assessment’s electronic examination consists of 120 to 150 multiple choice with single and multi-answer questions. You will be given 5 and 1/2 hours to take the test with a scheduled 30-minute break.

Expect the following types of questions:

  • case-based diagnosis
  • treatment planning
  • clinical decision making
  • radiographic interpretation

Third Assessment: Clinical Skills

This assessment is conducted in two days. You will perform 12 dental procedures on simulated patients (mannequins) in a clinical setting.


You need to pay $900 at the time of application. And the following fees at the time of registration for each type of assessment:

Assessment of Fundamental Knowledge (AFK): $800

Assessment of Clinical Judgment (ACJ): $1350

Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS): $9000

The second step of the NDEB Equivalency Process

Once you have successfully completed the three assessments, your file will be transferred to the NDEB certification process. Afterward, you will be allowed to take the NDEB written examination and Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE).

Written Examination

You will be given two books with a total of 300 multiple-choice questions. Each book must be completed within the 150-minute session.


This examination has stations with questions that you must answer within five minutes before moving to the next one. OSCE is held in a morning and afternoon session.

The final step

Once you’ve met the standards in written exam and OSCE, you will be qualified for the NDEB Certification.

Your next goal will be to get the license to practice in Ontario.

Application to practice dentistry in Ontario, Canada

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario assesses applicants if they meet the following criteria set out by the Regulation:

You must have mental competency and physical ability to safely practice dentistry—health conditions that may raise concern, such as substance abuse and a blood-borne pathogen.

  • You will be able to practice dentistry with decency, integrity, and honesty.
  • You have sufficient knowledge, skill, and judgment to perform the scope of dental practice. 
  • You must have the ability to communicate effectively.
  • You are displaying an appropriate professional attitude and conduct.

To apply for the certification of registration or license, you have to fill out an application online to register. 

Alternative careers for internationally trained dentists

Getting qualification through studying a program and passing the licensure examination equivalency to secure a dental career is the ultimate goal of foreign dentists. With that said, the following are some common concerns in relation to achieving your goal:

  • what to do while completing the qualifying program
  • finding an alternative dental program and its certification
  • career path in dentistry that does not require a doctorate

While you are in the long process of certification, you may work as a part-time dental receptionist, dental assistant, or a patient coordinator.

Dental Hygienist is also an essential health profession. A candidate must complete a college program in Dental hygiene, which may run for three years, including theory and hands-on training.

As part of preventive dental health care, a dental hygienist’s role varies from being a clinician, health promoterresearcher, advocateeducator, and administrator.

Looking for areas to get employment once you have completed a Dental hygiene program? Surprisingly, there are many fields to choose from: healthcare facilities, general and specialty practices, research and education, community health settings, dental sales, and dental supply companies.

Suppose you are into designing dental devices, such as dentures and retainers. In that case, you may work as a dental ceramist that professional dentists could not live without.

The bottom line

Aspiring health professionals, including the internationally educated dentists, would take it as a challenge to sit a series of examinations.

As with other people who made it big in their chosen career in Canada, foreign professionals who have long lived in this adoptive country instilled the following values — hard work, patiencedetermination, and perseverance.

Whether you choose the process to become a licensed dentist or take alternative careers in the dental health industry, you can find ways to use your knowledge and skills in this land of opportunities.

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