How to Obtain Information About:

Examinations

Licenses

Business- and Practice-Related Issues

Initial Licensure

Are graduate dental students licensed when they take their clinical portion of the NERB examination?
No. M.G.L. c.112, § 45 requires all applicants for dental licensure in the Commonwealth to submit a full, accurate, and complete application for licensure on forms provided by the Board, and to provide proof that they have: graduated with a DDS or DMD degree from a dental college accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation; and successfully passed the national board exams, the written and clinical parts of the Northeast Regional Board Examination (NERB) (or other regional exam accepted by the Board of Registration in Dentistry), and the Massachusetts Ethics and Jurisprudence Exam.

Wallet Cards and Wall Certificates

My application for licensure and/or permits have been approved and are current in the online Check a License verification system. When will I receive my wallet card(s)?
As soon as a license is issued, it is listed on "Check a License" on the Board's website and, if current, will be valid for practice. The wallet card(s) will be mailed to the address of record provided on the application within two to four weeks.

When will I receive a wall certificate of licensure?
The wall certificate will be mailed to the address of record provided on the application within two to four months after you receive the wallet card(s).

Verification of Massachusetts Licensure and Certification of Standing

How can I verify the license of a dentist or dental hygienist?
Go to mass.gov/dph/boards/dn and click on "Check a License" in the Online Services panel on the home page. Enter "Dentistry" and the name of the dentist or dental hygienist whose license you wish to verify.

How can I obtain a Certified Letter of Standing to send to another state's licensing board?
Submit a written and signed request (or form provided by the requesting jurisdiction) with:

  • Your name as it appears on your Massachusetts license
  • An up-to-date mailing address and phone number
  • Your Massachusetts license number
  • A check or money order for $15 made payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for each request.
  • The address where you would like the verification or certificate to be mailed.

Please mail the above information and the check or money order to:

Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry
239 Causeway Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114

Continuing Education

What are the requirements for continuing education for dentists and dental hygienists?
In order to meet the requirements for biennial license renewal, dentists must maintain proof of completion of a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education, and dental hygienists must have proof of a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education that has significant intellectual or practical content which deals primarily with matters directly related to the practice of dentistry or dental auxiliary functions or with the professional or ethical responsibilities and obligations of licensees (234 CMR 8.04). This requirement must be completed during the 24 months immediately preceding March 31st of the year of renewal (even years for dentists, odd years for dental hygienists). Up to 100% of the required CEUs may be met by successful completion of educational and scientific courses, examinations, and specialty boards. A maximum of 50% of the requirement may be met by taking self-instruction course, including online courses. A maximum of 50% of the required CEUs may be met through papers, publications, and scientific presentations. A maximum of 50% of the requirement may be met as an instructor of continuing education courses that satisfy criteria in 234 CMR 8.04. Two CEUs may be earned for every hour taught and only for the first presentation of the program. A maximum of 25% of the requirement may be met through teaching or research activities of at least 1 full day per week per academic year. A maximum of 20% of the requirement may be obtained through original presentations of table clinics or scientific exhibits at a professional meeting; a maximum of two hours of CEU per clinic or exhibit is allowed. A dentist may receive a maximum of 5 CEUs per renewal cycle and a dental hygienist may receive a maximum of 4 CEUs per renewal cycle for general attendance at a multi-day professional conference. A dentist may receive a maximum of 5 CEUs and a dental hygienist may receive a maximum of 2.5 CEUs per renewal cycle for pro bono services provided in public health settings, as specified at 234 CMR 8.05 (7). A maximum of 10% of the requirement may be met by completion of non-clinical practice-related courses.

For complete information about the responsibilities of licensees and providers of continuing education, go to www.mass.gov/dph/boards/dn, click on "Statutes, Rules, and Regulations", 234 CMR 8.00.

Anesthesia Permits

Do I need a special Board anesthesia/sedation permit to prescribe a sedative for my patients to take the night before a dental appointment? 
No permit is required if the patient is prescribed the Manufacturer's Maximum Recommended dose of a sedative for anxiolysis use the night prior to treatment or to be taken on the day of treatment. However, if additional sedation is prescribed or dispensed for use or administration on the day of treatment, including nitrous oxide/oxygen or any oral or intravenous sedation, or combination thereof, the proper anesthesia permit is required. For information on the Massachusetts requirements for anesthesia and sedation permits, please consult the regulations and permit materials on our website.

Advertising

Can a general dentist infer that he or she is a specialist by a misleading ad or website?
M.G.L. c.112, §52A prohibits any dentist or dental hygienist from issuing statements or advertisements that "contain a statement concerning the availability of specialty services to make the public believe that specialty care is rendered in a dental office by a qualified specialist when such is not the case."
 

Administration of Botulinum Toxin and Dermafillers

Are dentists licensed to practice in Massachusetts allowed to administer botulinum toxin or dermafillers?
Only if the licensee is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS).
 

Certificate by Regulatory Board for a Professional Corporation

How do I incorporate a dental practice that is solely owned by dentists?
To form a professional corporation for a dental practice solely owned by dentists, contact the Secretary of State's office at (617) 727-9640 or http://www.sec.state.ma.us/cor/corpweb/corpro/proinf.htm to request the appropriate application forms, including a "Certificate by Regulatory Board for Professional Corporations" which must be completed (typed) by the applicant and signed by the Board of Registration in Dentistry. Submit the completed form, by mail or in person, along with a check or money order payable to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for $30 per dentist listed to the Board at:
Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry
239 Causeway Street, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02114

How do I incorporate a dental business that is owned by non-dentists?
If the practice is owned by non-dentists, you may obtain information about applying for a clinic license by contacting:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Division of Health Care Quality
99 Chauncy Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02111
Tel. (617) 753-8000
www.mass.gov/dph/dhcq
 

Is it legal in Massachusetts for a non-dentist to own, operate, and profit from a dental office? 
Yes. The individual or entity must comply with the provisions of 105 CMR 140
(Licensure of Clinics - see Subpart D - Dental Services) and obtain a clinic license from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
 

CPR Certification

Can I take a CPR recertification course online?
No. It must be a "hands on" course.
 

Dental Assistants

I understand that a state law was passed recently that requires the registration of dental assistants. When will registration of dental assistants begin?
Chapter 530 of the Acts of 2008 contains provisions for the registration of dental assistants. However, in order for these provisions to be implemented, the Board of Registration in Dentistry must amend its regulations to establish requirements, qualification, and procedures for registration. The Board has established a working group with representation from the Massachusetts Dental Society, the Massachusetts Dental Hygienist Association, the Massachusetts Dental Assistants Association, educators, and others who will be advising the Board on the drafting of its regulations. The Board anticipates that draft regulations will be available for public comment in mid-2011, and registration of dental assistants will begin following final promulgation of the regulations.
 

Denture ID Requirements

Does the denture ID requirement apply to removable appliances such as orthodontic retainers or removable orthodontic appliances? 
Yes, depending on the type of prosthesis. M. G. L. c.112, §50 requires that "every complete upper and lower denture or removable dental prosthesis fabricated by a dentist or pursuant to a dentist's written prescription order, must be labeled with the name or social security number, or both, of the patient for whom the removable dental prosthesis is intended." The intent of this law is to address the difficulty sometimes encountered in residential facilities, such as long term care facilities, where numerous residents possess dentures and, absent identification on the denture, it may be impossible to determine to whom the denture belongs. The Board, however, recognizes that, over time, the types and materials used to fabricate removable prosthesis other than dentures may prevent the required labeling. Such types of prosthesis, may include, but are not limited to, athletic mouth guards, night guards, teeth whitening trays, and other types of athletic and orthodontic appliances. The Board, therefore, advises that, where possible, the prosthesis should be labeled, but recognizes that this may not be possible in all circumstances.
 

General Dentistry

May a general dentist provide orthodontic treatment?
Yes. Massachusetts only licenses general dentists. Specialists obtain certification from specialty boards, not the Massachusetts Board of Registration. However, if a licensee holds him or herself out as a specialist of any kind (periodontics, endodontics, etc.), services are limited by 234 CMR 5.03 to that specialty alone.
 

Insurance Plans

If I am going to discontinue my participation as a provider in a dental insurance plan, how much notice do I need to give my patients?
This would be a matter for consideration by the Massachusetts Division of Insurance, not the Board of Registration in Dentistry.
 

Prescription Writing Privileges

How do I obtain prescription writing privileges in Massachusetts? 
Massachusetts Controlled Substance Registration is required before a Federal (DEA) Controlled Substance Registration can be issued. Application may be obtained by contacting:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Division of Food and Drugs
305 South Street , 2nd floor
Jamaica Plain , MA 02130
Phone: (617) 983-6700
Fax: (617) 524-8062
Email: dcp.dph@state.ma.us
 

Application for Federal (DEA) Controlled Substance Registration may be obtained from:

U.S. Dept. of Justice
Drug Enforcement Agency
50 Staniford Street, Suite 200
Boston , MA 02114
(617) 557-2100
1-800-882-9539
 

Radiation Control Permit

How do I register with the Radiation Control Program? 
M.G.L. c.119, §51A requires that each person who intends to acquire a source of ionizing radiation shall apply to the Department of Public Health, Radiation Control Program to register such equipment. The application may be obtained from:
 

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Radiation Control Program
Schrafft Center, Suite 1M2A
529 Main Street
Charlestown, MA 02129
(617) 242-3035
RadiationControl@massmail.state.ma.us
 

Radiographs

Can full-mouth radiographs or panoramic radiographs be taken only at the direction of a dentist? Can a hygienist assess the need for radiographs and take them without first consulting with the dentist?
Board Regulations at 234 CMR 5.10 provide that a dental hygienist, properly certified to take radiographs, may do so only on the direction and under the general supervision of a licensed dentist. A dental hygienist is barred from making a diagnosis by M.G.L. c.112, §51, and, therefore, is prohibited from assessing the need for radiographs. General supervision allows a dental hygienist to take radiographs based on instructions from the dentist, but does not require the dentist to be physically present while the dental hygienist takes the radiographs. (See 234 CMR 5.12 (8) and 234 CMR 2.03 "Supervision.")
 

What is the minimum age that someone can take x-rays?
The law is silent on the matter of age; however, in order for a dental auxiliary to be able to take radiographs, he/she must meet the requirements specified in 234 CMR 5.10. It may be advisable to check with your attorney or malpractice insurer if you have any questions regarding hiring a minor (under age 18).
 

What is the recommended frequency for taking dental radiographs? 
Depending on the condition and status of a patient, dentists frequently require radiographs prior to performing treatment of any kind, including tooth cleaning. The Board currently references the ADA/FDA Guide to Patient Selection for Dental Radiographs as issued in 2004 and updated in 2005 by the American Dental Association and the US Food and Drug Administration which is available online at www.ada.org - just click on A-Z Topics: Radiography/X-Rays.

As you will note from the guidance referenced above, the recommended use and frequency of dental radiography varies greatly depending on the patient's age, dental developmental stage, clinical circumstances, and oral disease. As stated in the guidance, "The ADA, in collaboration with FDA, developed these guidelines to serve as an adjunct to the dentist's professional judgment of how to best use diagnostic imaging for each patient."

Radiographs are a well-established tool for detecting problems that may be developing and are not yet apparent. If a dentist does not take radiographs as indicated, a problem that could have been identified early may become a large and expensive proposition at a later date. Furthermore, in some cases, cleaning of the teeth may obscure or aggravate an undiagnosed condition.

Therefore, if the dentist, in his/her professional judgment, feels that radiographs are a necessary and appropriate component of diagnosis and/or treatment for a specific patient, it is within his/her scope of practice to prescribe such. If the patient refuses, the dentist may decide that it is clinically not advisable to proceed with diagnosis or treatment.
 

What if a patient adamantly refuses to have radiographs taken? Is making a note in the chart enough?
If the patient refuses to have radiographs taken, the dentist should require a signed and dated written statement from the patient or the patient's guardian stating that 1) the patient and/or guardian has been informed about the taking of the radiographs as part of the treatment plan, and 2) the patient or guardian refuses to have them taken. If the dentist believes that radiographs are essential to the treatment of the patient, the dentist may refer the patient to another provider.
 

Supervision of Limited Licensed Dentists

Does the supervising dentist need to be present in the public clinic, prison, hospital, or school at all times when the limited license dentist is practicing? 
No. Limited license dentists may work under general supervision which does not require that the supervising dentist be present in the facility. The supervising dentist, however, should be available by phone or another means to provide consultation or supervision as needed or appropriate.
 

If limited license dentists are providing hygiene services does the supervising dentist need to be present in the health care facility?
See above.
 

If the supervising dentist is on vacation or other type of leave can any Massachusetts fully licensed dentist provide supervision or should the limited license dentist take time off too? If any fully licensed dentist can provide supervision for that period, will he/she be responsible for the limited license dentist for that duration of time?
The fully licensed dentist who signs the limited license application is responsible for supervision of the limited licensee, including vacation and other periods of absence. The Board suggests that, if there is a period during which the supervising dentist is unavailable, another fully licensed dentist be named to supervise the limited licensee during this time, and that this be so noted, with dates, in the personnel files of the facility.
 

If the supervising dentist quits/resigns from his/her position, what is the policy to be followed? Does he or she need to inform the Board about leaving the position? Do the limited license dentists need to reapply for their license with the new supervising dentist?
The Board should be notified about the change immediately and in writing. There is no need to submit a new application.
 

Can more than one dentist sign an application for a limited license dentist? 
One dentist per practice site is all that is allowed.
 

Can an authorized representative of the health center sign the limited license application? 
No. The application must be signed by a Massachusetts fully licensed dentist who takes responsibility for supervision of the limited licensee.

Can any Massachusetts fully licensed dentist in the facility provide supervision? 
Yes.


This information is provided by the Division of Health Professions Licensure within the Department of Public Health.